Spate of blasts killed 83 in Damascus’ deadliest day
DAMASCUS (AFP) – A spate of bombings across Damascus killed at least 83 people in the deadliest day for the capital since Syria’s war erupted, a watchdog said Friday, as the opposition discussed a plan for peace talks with the regime.
Thursday’s biggest bombing, which both the regime and its opponents blamed on “terrorists”, killed 61 people and left a trail of destruction in the city centre, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The attack, in Mazraa district, was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives-laden car near the entrance of the Baath party’s main offices, said the Britain-based monitor.
Gruesome images of charred bodies next to mangled vehicles were shown on state television, which said children were among the casualties in the explosion near a school. The blast wounded more than 200 people in a wide radius, including Nayef Hawatmeh, the head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which said he was hit by flying glass in his office 500 metres away.
Russian news agencies reported the windows of Moscow’s embassy were blown out, although no staff were hurt.
Another 22 people were killed in an apparently coordinated triple bombing targeting security headquarters in the northern Damascus district of Barzeh on Thursday, including 19 members of the forces, said the Observatory.
Attacks have increasingly targeted government or security buildings in Damascus in recent months, many of them claimed by the jihadist Al-Nusra Front which Washington has designated as a “terrorist” organisation.
The attacks were condemned by both the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the umbrella opposition National Coalition, as well as the United States, Russia and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
There was no still claim of responsibility for the Mazraa blast.
The Syrian foreign ministry alleged the bombing was “carried out by armed terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda that receive financial and logistic help from abroad”, using government terminology for rebels.
The opposition also denounced the bombers as “terrorists”.
“Any acts targeting civilians with murder or human rights violations are criminal acts that must be condemned, regardless of the perpetrator or the justification,” said the National Coalition.