At least 50 people have been killed by two powerful explosions that ripped through Damascus.
Today’s bombings are the deadliest attack on the Syrian capital since the country’s uprising began 14 months ago.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The explosions heavily damaged a military intelligence building and left blood and human remains in the streets.
The blasts happened at about 7.50 am, when employees are usually arriving at work.
The figures for the death toll were given by the health minister. The government has blamed terrorists for the carnage.
The attacks were carried out by suicide bombers and killed 55 people, the Interior Ministry said.
More than 370 people were wounded in the attack. The ministry said the explosives weighed more than 1,000 kgs.
Central Damascus is under the tight control of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad but has been struck by several bomb attacks, often targeting security installations or convoys, since the revolt against him began in March 2011.
The government blames the bombings on the terrorists it says are behind the uprising, but opposition leaders and activists routinely blame the regime for orchestrating the attacks, saying they help it demonise the opposition and maintain support among those who fear greater instability.
An al-Qaida-inspired group has claimed responsibility for several past explosions, raising fears that terrorist groups are entering the fray and exploiting the chaos.
Maj Gen Robert Mood, the Norwegian head of the UN’s ceasefire monitors in the country, toured the site and said the Syrian people do not deserve this “terrible violence”.
The relentless violence in the country has brought a ceasefire plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan to the brink of collapse.
Today, Mr Annan appealed for calm and an end to bloodshed.
“The Syrian people have already suffered too much,” he said in a statement.
The explosions went off seconds apart during the morning rush hour. Witnesses said the first explosion attracted curious passers-by. But seconds later, the second, far larger explosion went off, causing massive damage.
Syrian TV showed shaken young girls in tears who said they were in the Qazaz First Elementary School when the blast occurred.
The latest major explosion in the capital occurred on April 27 when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt near members of the security forces, killing at least nine people and wounding 26.