At least 27 people were killed and some 100 were wounded in two explosions which hit Damascus early on Saturday, a Syrian television channel said, quoting Health Minister Wael al-Halki.
The twin blasts killed members of the security forces and civilians in an attack that state television blamed on "terrorists" seeking to oust President Bashar Assad in a year-long revolt.
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Syrian television reported that cars packed with explosives had targeted an intelligence centre and a police compound at 7.30 am (0530 GMT), blowing the front off one building and sending debris and shattered glass flying through the streets.
Gruesome images from the sites showed what appeared to be smoldering bodies in two separate vehicles, a wrecked minivan smeared with blood, and severed limbs collected in sacks.
Watch scene of explosion in Damascus
"We heard a huge explosion. At that moment the doors in our house were blown out ... even though we were some distance from the blast," one elderly man, with a bandage wrapped round his head, told the public television channel.
No one claimed responsibility for the coordinated detonations, which echoed a handful of similar attacks that have struck Damascus and Syria's second city Aleppo since December.
'A terrorist attack'
A Damascus resident interviewed by Syrian television called the blasts "a terrorist attack," adding that the residents of Damascus condemn it." Another resident lamented the death of his sister, saying: "What has my sister done wrong that she deserved to die here? Is this liberty?"
Scene of one of the blasts in Damascus (Photo: EPA)
A number of eyewitnesses said that the two car bombs exploded in an area populated with more civilians than security personnel.
Other passersby slammed those who sided with the rebels against Assad's regime: "Allah wiling, those who send weapons (to the rebels) like the Qatari Amir and others will experience similar consequences," one said.
An angry eyewitness pointed at smoldering body parts and exclaimed: "All day long they convene meetings in Istanbul and want to send aid to the Syrian people; is this the aid they want to give us?"
A man injured in the blast and evacuated to a Damascus hospital recounted the moments of terror: "There was a very loud blast and for a moment it seemed as though everything in our house collapsed to the floor.
"I was sleeping at the time and I heard something that resembled an earthquake. I had no idea what was going on until I heard screaming on the street," another local resident said.
None of the residents interviewed on Syrian TV expressed support for the rebels, one man calling the explosions a "terrorist act."
"What can I say? This is terror. How can someone do such a thing? It's forbidden by religion. The world never learns. One must not keep silent over such a thing," he said.
A doctor in the Red Crescent hospital in Damascus told the national news channel that he treated some 40 patients with various levels of injury. "We've taken all the steps to provide initial medical care. Most of the wounded are either children or elderly," he said.
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