In Syria, peaceful protests – but also signs of growing violence (+videos)
The battle for Syria is getting messier. Today, large crowds turned out to call for the fall of Assad's regime. But a Damascus blast killed at least 25 – a sign of how complex the uprising may become.
A massive explosion ripped through central Damascus today as tens of thousands of Syrians turned out across the country to peacefully protest against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The apparent target was a bus full of military police.Skip to next paragraph
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The contrast between the protests and the carnage in Damascus is a reminder that the struggle for Syria is now a two-front war. Though driven by unarmed citizens demanding that Mr. Assad leave power, there is an increasingly armed component.
The Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors from Assad's military, is now standing with protesters – and threatening to escalate the conflict if the Arab League observer mission fails to produce satisfactory results in the coming days.
Perpetrator still unclear
What really happened in Damascus today? Speculation is thick on the ground, hard facts about the perpetrator almost nil.
The government claimed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. Syrian State TV was quick to leap on the attack for propaganda purposes, carrying a montage of pictures of the carnage with ominous, minor-key music and the word "terrorism" emblazoned across the screen.
Opposition activists, meanwhile, insisted that they hadn't carried it out, and some even speculated the bombing was a false-flag operation carried out by the regime to make the opposition look bad.
That seems unlikely. But Assad's government has repeatedly sought to frame the uprising against his family's 40-year grip on power and the Baath Party he heads as the work of foreign agitators and terrorists – a carbon copy of the tactic used by Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, with limited success.