Tens of thousands of protesters have defied Syrian regime gunfire and taken to the streets, as state TV says the army foiled a would-be suicide attack a day after twin bombings in Damascus killed dozens.
At least 12 people died across Syria, including a guard gunned down after a large explosion outside Baath party offices in Aleppo on Friday evening, hours after the suicide bombing was reportedly thwarted in the northern city.
”The blast was powerful but we do not know what was the origin,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ”We can confirm one death – the guard of the Baath party office.”
An opposition activist on the ground in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, said the blast happened near a park which regime forces had emptied out of before it went off.
The activist, Mohammed al-Halabi, added there was a chance the explosion was caused by a sound bomb.
It came only hours after forces loyal to the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, opened fire on protesters during a demonstration in Aleppo, killing one civilian, said the Observatory.
Also on Friday, state television said the army foiled a suicide attack in Aleppo by a bomber with 1200 kilograms of explosives in his car.
Anti-regime activists dismissed the official account of a foiled attack as ”a lie”, according to Mr Halabi.
”It is not in the interests of the [rebel] Free Syrian Army to stage attacks on a Friday,” the day of weekly mass anti-regime protests over the past 14 months, he said.
Traditionally, a bastion of the Baath party, anti-regime sentiment has been on the rise in the commercial hub of Aleppo in recent months.
Syria’s 14-month uprising began as a peaceful popular revolt but has turned into an insurgency amid mounting calls to arm rebels seeking to overthrow Mr Assad.