Political stronghold in Syria hit by lethal bomb

Syria was hit by a third lethal car bombing as UN teams readied for a government-led humanitarian mission and to work to launch a monitoring operation to end a year of bloodshed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast targeted political security offices in the northern city of Aleppo, killing three civilians and wounding more than 25 others.

State media, which have said that such attacks aimed to sabotage efforts to find a political solution to Syria’s crisis, said it exploded near residential buildings and a post office.

The attack left dead and wounded, causing damage to apartment buildings and cars, state television reported, without giving a precise casualty toll.

On Saturday, twin car bombings killed 27 people and wounded 140 others in the heart of Syria’s capital, mostly civilians, the interior ministry said, blaming “terrorists” for the attacks near police and air force headquarters.

The capital and Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, are both seen as having high levels of support for President Bashar al-Assad and been relatively unscathed by the brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.

“[Saturday’s] explosions were carried out by terrorists supported by foreign powers which finance and arm them,” charged Al-Baath newspaper, mouthpiece of Assad’s ruling party.

“The two attacks... aim to disrupt Annan’s mission and to foil international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis,” it said, referring to UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan.

A rally and prayers were held yesterday at the site of the biggest explosion, in the Al-Qasaa district that is home to many members of Syria’s Christian minority.

State television has repeatedly broadcast how the Al-Qasaa blast had totally gutted the facade of a multi-storey building, wrecked homes and left behind blood-splattered pavements.

Opposition activists accused the regime, as in past lethal bombings in the capital and the northern city of Aleppo, of having stage-managed the attacks.

Ath-Thawra, another official daily, pointed the finger at Qatar and Saudi Arabia which have called for rebels fighting the Assad regime to be armed.

“The terrorism of Hamad and Saud is not a first. We know their blood-stained hatred, born of jealousy... We have heard their call, and their incitement,” it said, referring to the Saudi and Qatari ruling families.

Technical experts from the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, meanwhile, were to take part in a mission to assess the humanitarian impact of the crackdown on anti-regime protests since Mar 2011.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who held talks in Damascus this month, said they would join the assessment mission to Daraa, Homs, Hama, Tartus, Latakia, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and rural zones around Damascus.


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