Twin Blasts Hit Syrian Capital

Posted September 26th, 2012 at 2:20 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian state television says two “terrorist” explosions have hit near an army staff building in Damascus, sparking a fire in the capital's Omayyad Square.

There was no immediate word on any casualties from the Wednesday morning blasts.

The explosions are the latest to hit the capital during the country's 18-month conflict, following a bombing Tuesday at a building occupied by pro-government militias. Rebels said they hoped that attack would kill top-level security officials.

Last month, bombings struck the state television headquarters in Damascus and near a hotel used by United Nations observers. A bomb attack in July killed Syria's sitting defense minister and three other top security officials.

Meanwhile, a Syrian human rights group says security forces have arrested at least 68 people, including three children, over the past few days in and around the coastal city of Banias.

Mataz Suheil of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA Tuesday the “arbitrary detentions” of 25 women, three children and at least 40 men are believed to be in response to the kidnapping of a senior Syrian officer three days earlier.

Suheil said none of those detained has been charged with a crime, and he believes the detentions have been made to “basically blackmail” rebel fighters or activists to turn themselves in to authorities. He called on the U.N. General Assembly to take action this week to help broker a cease-fire to end the unrest.

“Without the cease-fire, all we see is an escalation of the conflict and a furthering away of any goals of an uprising or any attempt to better the humanitarian situation for ordinary civilians.

He called on international leaders to put aside politics when working toward a solution for Syria.

“What we'd really like to see from the international community is a consensus to see an end to the conflict – an attempt to get a consensus on a cease-fire by all sides. We'd like to see a unified General Assembly that does not try to go for political gains or narrow sovereign interests of Russia, for example, or China or the U.S. or Britain.”

World leaders speaking at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday called for an end to the conflict in Syria.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly the world must “stop the violence and flows of arms to both sides, and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible.”

France called for U.N. protection of rebel-held areas to help end Syria's bloodshed and rights abuses.