Free Syrian Army rejects claim that it bombed UN observers' Damascus hotel
The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for a bombing in Damascus today, but insists the target was a gathering of top military officials, not UN observers, as state media reported.
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Syrian rebels are claiming responsibility for a massive explosion today near a hotel in downtown Damascus that United Nations observers have been using, but they say that the bomb was a strike against the Syrian state military, and not the UN.
Abu al-Noor, a spokesperson for the Ahfad Al Rasoul brigade of the Free Syrian Army, told Al Jazeera English in a telephone interview that the bomb targeted a daily meeting of high ranking officials at a military headquarters near the hotel. Through a translator, he said that Syrian state media assertions that the UN hotel was the target were "false and untrue."
Mr. Noor told AJE, "We were targeting a security meeting. It was preplanned. It was timed, the place was already pinpointed. It was at 8 o'clock in the morning. It is the daily morning meeting of the chiefs of staff where all the military operations by the regime are planned and launched. The operation was carried out when 150 high ranking officers were inside the meeting."
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Noor also described the details of the attack, and claimed that the FSA had bribed Syrian officials to enable the attack. "Eight explosive canisters were planted inside the armed forces staff headquarters," he said, adding, "We managed to buy out some of the insiders, some of the officers inside the headquarters. We have been planning for this operation for one complete month."
Noor noted that the FSA was unable to determine how many were hurt in the attack due to the state's security lockdown.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reports that the explosion was the result of a tanker truck being blown up "behind" the UN observers' hotel, though all UN personnel are "safe." The agency says that three people were injured in the blast, which also caused "minor material damage in the surrounding area."