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Terrorism & Security

Twin bombings shake Syrian capital as UN debates how to end the fighting (+video)

Rebels said the explosions, felt throughout Damascus, hit Syria's military headquarters and caused dozens of casualties. But a regime spokesman claimed there was only 'material damage.'

By Staff writer / September 26, 2012

This photo shows smoke rising from Syria's army command headquarters in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 26. Twin blasts targeting Syria's army command headquarters rocked the capital on Wednesday, setting off hours of sporadic gunbattles and a raging fire inside the heavily guarded compound, state-run media and witnesses said.

SANA/AP

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Latin America Editor

Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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Explosions hit a school building in the Syrian capital, which activists claim served as a rendezvous for security forces and pro-government militias. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

Syrian rebels bombed Army headquarters in Damascus today in the second consecutive day of attacks on government troops and facilities in the city – underscoring the rebels’ ability to carry out assaults on centers of President Bashar al-Assad’s power, despite ongoing targeted strikes by the Syrian Army.

The attack comes just days after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced that it was going to move its top officials from Turkey to parts of rebel-held Syria. "The plan is that all the leadership of the FSA will be based in Syria soon, either in Idlib Province or Aleppo Province," a rebel source told Reuters over the weekend.

Though rebels now control parts of Syria, they still face constant air and ground attacks by government forces.

This morning, two large bomb blasts went off in Damascus, according to Information Minister Omran Zoabi. He said one may have gone off inside the military compound, something that could indicate inside help, reports the Guardian. The blasts were felt throughout the city – with buildings one kilometer (a half-mile) away shaking “violently” at the force – and were followed by a “fierce gun battle,” reports the BBC. Diplomats told the news agency this was the largest explosion they’ve heard in months.

The FSA took responsibility for the attack, and said dozens of people died as a result of the blasts. Syrian officials said, however, that there was only “material damage.”  After the attack, Mr. Zoabi told the Associated Press:

I can confirm that all our comrades in the military command and defence ministry are fine.

Everything is normal. There was a terrorist act, perhaps near a significant location, yes, this is true, but they failed as usual to achieve their goals.

The Syrian government often refers to rebel fighters as terrorists.  Meanwhile, exiled activist Ammar Abdulhamid interpreted the attack in a very different way:

Assad’s grip over Damascus has become tenuous at best. Rebels are able to conduct bombings and attacks even in the most secured areas aided by informants embedded within Assad’s own security establishment. The battle of Damascus is set to begin at earnest soon, in what promises to be a very bloody development.

The conflict in Syria has been a central theme this week at the United Nations, as world leaders try to find a path toward ending the violence. French President François Hollande told the General Assembly that outside military intervention was needed to protect rebel-held zones. President Assad “has no future among us,” President Hollande said.

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