Explosions Kill Dozens in Damascus as Violence Continues

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

A pair of bombings on Thursday morning in the Syrian capital of Damascus killed more than 55 people and wounded more than 370, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). The government blamed terrorists with international sponsors for carrying out the attacks. The bloodshed comes as violence by the regime has continued despite the presence of United Nations monitors and a ceasefire agreement.

Thousands have been killed since last year as the Syrian regime has brutally cracked down on an opposition protest movement seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad. International sanctions have been placed on the government to pressure it to halt the violence.

While the United States categorically condemned the bombing attacks on Thursday, they avoided accusing any specific group of being behind them, aside from arguing the killing is not representative of the main opposition movement.

US spokesman Victoria Nuland also blamed Assad for creating a “climate of violence” and “providing an environment, potentially, for mischief to be made by others who don’t favor peace in Syria.”

In comments to reporters released by the State Department, Nuland refused to say if they thought Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. She said of the bombings, “We do have concerns that these kinds of tactics are not in keeping with what we’ve seen from the legitimate opposition.

“They could be the work of spoilers, of others, and that’s why it’s so important that the Assad regime, if it truly cares about chaos inside its borders, to set the example, allow the monitors to come in, and create conditions that make it harder—including by allowing journalists in, by allowing peaceful protest—for spoilers, for other nefarious forces to exploit the situation.”

The Syrian regime has long argued its military crackdown on civilians in the country is in response to terrorist armed groups who are sowing unrest. Some terrorist-style attacks have targeted the government, and armed rebels have engaged in more traditional fighting. However, the regime has itself been accused of killing thousands of civilians and sparking the chaos that some fear may lead to civil war.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 10, 2012)