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Terrorism & Security

Rebel hopes rise that reelected Obama will act on Syria as blasts hit Damascus

Three explosions in the capital, including an attack on the presidential palace, could mark a new phase in the rebels' campaign against the Assad regime.

By Staff writer / November 7, 2012

Residents flee their homes after what activists say was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Houla, near Homs yesterday.

Misra Al-Misri/Shaam News Network/Handout/Reuters

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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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Syrian rebels reportedly fired at the presidential palace in Damascus today, stepping up their campaign of targeting those close to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime even as many push the now safely reelected US President Barack Obama to move more urgently in Syria.

Residents told Reuters that shelling aimed at the presidential palace hit a neighboring community today, while two high-profile attacks on Assad allies took place this week. The brother of the parliamentary speaker was gunned down in Damascus on Tuesday and today the Associated Press reports that, according to Syrian state media, a judge was killed in a car bomb in the capital.

Three large blasts in Damascus this morning, including the failed attempt on the presidential palace, could signal the start of a new phase of the rebel campaign, Susan Ahmad, spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Council in Damascus, told the Guardian via Skype. Reminiscent of the July bombing that killed four of Assad's lieutenants, Ms. Ahmad said the second and third blasts were attributed to rebels targeting a military airport in Mezzeh and a nearby security department.

US and Western leaders have been frustrated with the fractured state of Syria’s opposition. But within hours of Obama’s reelection victory, Britain said it would deal directly with militarized rebel leaders, according to AP. Previously US and British contact was largely with rebel groups in exile, like the Syrian National Council (SNC), or political opposition members in Syria.

Opposition leadership has been largely based outside of Syria, making them less effective, reports The Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson.

The main Syrian opposition group, the SNC, is in Qatar this week discussing plans for greater unity and representation in Syria, and today will elect a new leader and executive committee. The SNC “voted to broaden its appeal by including more than 200 additional members of other anti-regime groups,” the Monitor reports.

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