At least 44 people were killed and over 150 were wounded in a double suicide car bombing targeting security and intelligence buildings in Damascus, Friday.
Syrian State TV said that the casualties included both military personnel and civilians, adding that the attack may have been the work of al-Qaeda, adding that Damascus authorities apprehended two suspects in connection to the attacks.
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Eyewitnesses said they heard two blasts rock the capital. An activist with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported sounds of heavy gunfire after the explosions.
The state TV report, about an hour after the blasts went off, said initial investigations showed involvement by the al-Qaida terrorist network. It showed footage of several mutilated and torn bodies on the ground, with rubble, twisted debris and burned cars littering the road. Bystanders and ambulance workers used blankets and stretchers to carry blood-stained bodies into vehicles.
The explosions went off within minutes of each other, shaking residents around the city, in the morning Friday, a weekend day. They took place in the upscale Kfar Sousa district, and state TV said they targeted the state security building and a nearby intelligence building in the neighborhood.
One of the buildings hit by the blasts (Screenshot)
Syria's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that om Lebanon warned Damascus on Wednesday that al-Qaeda had infiltrated into Syria from its territory.
"The Lebanese authorities warned us two days ago that al-Qaeda group infiltrated to Syria from (north Lebanon's town of) Ersal," spokesman Jihad Makdesi said. "And today's suicide bombers caused the death of around 40 and more than 150 injuries, all are civilians and military personnel. Freedom seekers should know that this is not the way to achieve democracy."
The attack came a day after the first wave of an Arab League monitoring mission arrived in Damascus, which will be checking whether Syria is implementing a peace plan to halt months of unrest after a fierce government crackdown on protests.
Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who rushed to the scene of one of the explosions along with an Arab League observer delegation, said "this is a gift from terror and al-Qaeda to the Arab observers on the day of their arrival.
"Terror wanted the observers' first day in Damascus to be a tragic one, but the Syrian people will fight the killing machine – which is supported by the Europeans, Americans and some Arab elements," he told reporters.
The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah said the US was behind the bombing attacks in Damascus and Baghdad and claimed Washington was operating on behalf of the "Zionist interest."
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman spoke over the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad and condemned the attacks, saying they were aimed at "sabotaging the agreement between Syria and the Arab League.
Eyewitnesses told a Syrian opposition website they believe Assad's regime was behind the explosions to present itself as the victim of al-Qaeda terror.
The blasts are the first such attack in the Syrian capital since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad. The Syrian regime has long depicted the uprising as the work of terrorists and armed gangs.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown waged since March by the Syrian regime against protesters.
Dudi Cohen, AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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