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Terrorism & Security

Syrian state media: Terrorists bomb government buildings in Damascus

According to state-run media in Syria, two car bombs went off in Damascus today. The government is blaming 'armed terrorists.'

By Staff writer / December 23, 2011

A damaged car is seen where a car bomb blew up at security sites in Damascus Friday, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Two booby-trapped cars blew up at security sites killing a number of civilians and soldiers in the worst violence to hit Syria's capital during nine months of unrest against President Bashar al-Assad.

SANA/Reuters

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Syria's state-run news agency reports that suicide attackers detonated two car bombs outside government buildings in Damascus Friday, capping off one of the deadliest weeks since Syria's uprising began in March. More than 160 people were killed this week as the government cracked down on what appeared to be attempts to create a rebel stronghold in the northwest.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that the attack "bears the blueprints of Al Qaeda" (warning: graphic images). Throughout the uprising, the government has blamed much of the violence on "armed terrorists."

The Washington Post reports at least 30 dead and more than 100 wounded from today's bombings, but notes that because the Syrian government still bars foreign journalists from the country and controls media within the country, there is no way to verify government accounts or state media reports. An opposition leader and a regional analyst both expressed doubt about the bombings, telling the Post that there was "little direct evidence of a serious bombing, and that attacks by Al Qaeda and other groups are virtually unheard of in Syria."

Salman Shaikh, of the Brookings Institute in Doha, said that it was difficult to believe that al-Qaeda or an opposition group would have staged such an attack in Damascus.

“Syria doesn’t really have a record of this,” he said. “The security forces have not lost control of the situation to such an extent that this would seem likely.”

Shaikh also said it seemed suspicious that the media reported the attack so quickly, while pictures showed the car bombs already cleared away. “I am deeply skeptical,” he said.

Mr. Shaikh said the explosions could actually help the regime by stirring up fears of instability among Syrians.

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