Twin explosions have shaken the Syrian capital, killing 27 people and injuring as many as 140 others. Syrian media has dubbed the blasts a “terrorist attack.”
The victims include both civilians and security forces, Syrian Health Minister Wael al-Halaqi told Syria News, adding that most of those killed were civilians.
The first bomb targeted an Air Force intelligence building in the residential district of al-Qassaa, a predominantly Christian area, and went off around 7:30 a.m. local time. Another bomb, going off almost simultaneously with the first one, targeted the Criminal Security Department.
Later in the day, a third blast went off near a military bus at a Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk, a district of Damascus, killing two suicide bombers.
The explosions come two days after the one-year anniversary of the uprisings against President Bashar Al-Assad’s government that have killed over 8,000 people according to UN estimates.
They are the latest in a string of attacks shaking the country since December. The last major suicide bombing, in Aleppo on February 10, claimed 28 lives. Damascus has seen a half dozen suicide bombing over the last three months, most of them targeting intelligence and security buildings.
The Syrian government blamed terrorist groups attempting to destabilize the country.
The opposition counters that the Assad government is purposely orchestrating the attacks to discredit the rebel movement.
In the meantime, top US intelligence officials said the likely culprit was al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Associated Press reports.
Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab league envoy to Syria, urged the international community to unite in the push for a peaceful resolution to the conflict on Friday.
Annan will send a technical mission to Syria next week to discuss the introduction of foreign monitors to the country. The proposed monitoring mission is part of the five-point plan agreed upon by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Arab League representatives last week in Cairo.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby condemned the twin bombings, and called in a statement for "an immediate halt of all acts of violence regardless of the source, and for an active move to find ways of stopping gunfire in all parts of Syria … to reach a way to guarantee Syria's transition into a peaceful stage dominated by dialogue."
James Petras from Binghamton University suggests the attacks are a sign of the opposition's recognition of defeat.
“One of the things that I think is important is that it [the bombings] takes place after the failed efforts to seize cities via the armed groupings. So it’s recognition of a defeat – a defeat that has been inflicted by the Syrian government,” he said. “It also reflects frustration over the huge turnouts – hundreds of thousands, if not millions as the regime claims, that turned out yesterday in support of a negotiated settlement. It also reflects frustration over the fact that the UN is moving toward a position of dialogue and not of regime change. The opposition using bombs instead of dialogue is an indication that they are losing international support as well as domestic support.”