Published: 09.27.08, 10:48 / Israel News
Seventeen people were killed Saturday morning when a car bomb exploded near a security installation on the airport road in Damascus. The blast, which Syria's interior minister dubbed a "terror attack", occurred at an intersection leading to the Sit Zeinab shrine, popular with Shi'ite pilgrims from Iran and Lebanon.
According to television reports, the car was rigged with at least 200 kg (440 pounds) of explosives, and at least 14 people were injured. The reports also said that "investigations by the Terrorism Combating Unit are under way to identify the attackers."
They added that Syrian security forces have closed off the perimeter, and are currently working to discern the circumstances of the blast.
State television also quoted Interior Minister General Bassam Abdel Majeed as saying, "This is definitely a terror attack that occurred in a crowded area. This is a cowardly attack."
Witnesses said some industrial buildings about 100 meters away had shattered windows and the remains of the destroyed car were strewn on the highway.
In contrast to similar cases that took place in the country, the Syrian media has been broadcasting updated reports on the explosion and the number of the resulting casualties.
Syria has been rocked by a series of assassinations in the past months, most recently that of Hisham el-Badni, secretary to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' political leader.
According to sources affiliated with the Syrian opposition el-Badni, who resides in Damascus, was dragged from his car in the middle of the day and shot dead.
The incident was first made public by the Reform Party of Syria, an opposition group whose members operate mostly in the United States.
The party claimed the assassination was a message from the Syrian government to Hamas, to warn the group against its continuing cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Reuters contributed to the report
Opposition website: Syria blast may be 'work accident'
Published: 09.27.08, 22:05 / Israel News
The Damascus blast that left 17 people dead earlier Saturday may have been a result of a "work accident" by Syrian security forces, an opposition website reported. A local resident told a website reporter the car bomb that exploded in the Syrian capital may have been meant to explode in Iraq or Lebanon.
The opposition website reported that Syrian television images make it appear that the explosion took place in a building belonging to the security establishment. However, at this time the reports are mostly speculations and the cause of the blast remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition figures told Ynet that the explosion may in fact be a staged incident aimed at heightening fears of a growing radical Islamic threat, thereby presenting the Syrians with a pretext to deploy troops in Lebanon.
Saturday evening, senior Lebanese figures, including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, condemned the explosion. The Lebanese PM issued a statement saying that "this crime is despicable and unacceptable."
Siniora referred to the blast as a "terror crime" and said such incidents must be rejected, particularly when they take place in an Arab capital.
Report: Top Syrian officer killed in Damascus explosion
Published: 09.28.08, 10:56 / Israel News
A high-ranking Syrian military officer was killed in the car bomb explosion which struck Damascus on Saturday, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday.
Seventeen people were killed Saturday morning when a car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital. The blast, which Syria's interior minister dubbed a "terror attack", occurred at an intersection leading to the Sit Zeinab shrine, popular with Shiite pilgrims from Iran and Lebanon.
According to the al-Sharq al-Awsat report, the car bomb was meant to hit a Syrian intelligence services building, located near Damascus' international airport, where Syria's "Palestinian directorate" is believed to be located.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was quick to assign blame Saturday, saying Israel was the one which stood to gain the most from the attack.
"Unfortunately, in the years following the American war on terror, terror has managed to spread even further. Such incidents can take place anywhere and do not indicate that there was a security breach," he said.
The terror attack in Syria was condemned by the US, Europe and the Arab world.
Syria has known several assassinations and assassination attempts in the past few months, most recently that of Hisham el-Badni, secretary to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' political leader, who according to reports was gunned down in a Damascus street, in broad daylight.
July saw another top Syrian official killed, as Brigadier General Mohammad Suleiman, a senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was gunned down by a sniper.