Deadly blasts reported in Damascus

Several people are reported to have been killed in a pair of explosions in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to Syrian state television.

“Two terrorist bombings struck Damascus this morning,” state television said on Saturday, adding that preliminary reports suggested the bombers had blown up vehicles packed with explosives.

Smoke rises after an explosion in Damascus early on Saturday morning [Reuters]

A number of civilians and security personnel were injured in the explosions that targeted the aviation intelligence headquarters and the criminal security headquarters, state television said.

The attacks come two days after the first anniversary of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

“I woke up to two massive explosions around 7:30 this morning – one was on Baghdad street less than a mile away from my home,” a witness in Damascus told Al Jazeera.

“Relatives closer to the explosion told me their windows were blown out and doors destroyed from the blast,” the witness said.

Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, said Saturday’s explosions are not the first in the Syrian capital.

“A few weeks ago, we saw security buildings also come under attack and the government has been blaming what they are calling ‘terrorist groups,’” Khodr said.

Khodr continued that no one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks, but that the opposition has blamed the government for “orchestrating” them in the past to support its narrative.

“But we also have to remember that US officials have hinted in the past that they believe that al Qaeda could be involved, could be taking advantage of the security vacuum in that country,” Khodr said.

Calls for unity

Meanwhile on Friday, Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy, renewed calls for international unity in dealing with the crisis in Syria.

Addressing a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council, Annan appealed for the divided council to send a unified message to end the year-old crackdown and military assault on protest cities that the UN estimates has left more than 8,000 dead.

“The stronger and more unified your message, the better chance we have of shifting the dynamics of the conflict,” Annan was quoted as saying.

He said a UN team would visit Syria this weekend for talks with Assad’s government on proposals to end the bloodshed and allow in humanitarian aid.

“I hope they will have all the access that is necessary,” he told journalists in Geneva after the briefing.

Annan’s address to the council came as mass anti-government protests continued across Syria to call for international military intervention in the country.

Activists from the Syrian Revolution Co-ordination Union said 15 people, including two children, were killed in violence across the country on Friday.

Syria’s foreign ministry said on Friday the government would co-operate with Annan while at the same time fighting “terrorism”.

“The Syrian government is determined to protect its citizens by disarming the terrorists and continues to search for a peaceful solution to the crisis by co-operating with special envoy Kofi Annan,” it said in a letter addressed to the UN and carried by the state news agency SANA.

Source: AL Jazeera

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