Damascus Bombs Kill 27 as Syria Gears Up for UN Visit

Posted March 17th, 2012 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Twin car bombings struck government targets in the Syrian capital Saturday, killing 27 people and wounding 140 others, mostly civilians.

State media said the blasts occurred minutes apart near a police security building and an intelligence center in Damascus.

State TV aired gruesome images of the scene, with smoke billowing from the explosion sites, twisted steel and debris strewn in front of a blasted-out building, and the mangled remains of victims.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Syrian officials blamed “terrorist forces” that they say are behind the year-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

The explosions occurred as a team of U.N. experts is preparing to begin a trip to Syria to discuss the possible deployment of international monitors, as part of efforts to curb deadly violence from the government's crackdown on dissent.

Meanwhile, a peaceful protest was held in Washington Saturday with demands for more U.S. help to protect Syrian civilians. Protesters called for Mr. Assad to step down and for more U.S. assistance to help speed his resignation.

In Paris Saturday, anti-Syrian government protesters chanted “Long live Arab revolution.” One of the protesters expressed hope that France will continue to support the uprising as well as the Free Syrian Army.

After briefing the U.N. Security Council Friday, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said Syria's political turmoil needs to be handled carefully to avoid any “miscalculations” that could lead to a “major escalation” that could affect the entire region.

Mr. Annan is serving as a special U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria. He traveled to Damascus about a week ago and discussed proposals with Mr. Assad on ending Syria's political turmoil.

The U.N. says more than 8,000 people have died since the anti-government uprising began a year ago.

Syria's last major bombings were in February. Twin blasts at security facilities in the northern city of Aleppo killed 28 people.