Syria: Ban Ki Moon condemns bloody attacks in Damascus

Seventy victims, two car bombs, government accuses Al Qaeda

22 February, 10:44

An injured man being carried away past a burning vehicle close to the site of th large  explosion in Damascus An injured man being carried away past a burning vehicle close to the site of th large explosion in Damascus

(ANSAmed) - NEW YORK/BEIRUT - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned a series of attacks Thursday in the Syrian capital Damascus which caused dozens of casualties and injuries. In a formal statement issued by his spokesperson on Thursday night, Ban stressed 'his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and destruction, and that a political solution is the only way out'.

Ban Ki-moon renewed his call 'on all parties to end the violence and respect international humanitarian law'.

On Thursday, Damascus was rocked by one of the bloodiest attacks carried out so far in Syria in which 60 people, mostly civilians, were killed, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said another dozen people were killed in a second car bomb explosion in the Barzeh district. Witnesses and activists reported other explosions near the army chief of staff command and offices of security services.

The government has blamed al Qaida for the attack while rebels besieging the capital denied any involvement and the regime's opposition abroad condemned it. According to state television, a suicide bomber driving a car carrying 300 kg of explosives carried out the attack in the Mazraa neighbourhood in the northern part of the city. A school nearby was heavily damaged and the official Sana news agency cited 'victims' among the students without however identifying them. The Russian embassy in the area was also slightly damaged along with the local offices of the Baath party which has ruled the country for half a century. An pro-Syrian Palestinian leader, Nayef Hawatme, the historic head of the Democratic front for the liberation of Palestine, reported hand injuries.

The National Coalition, the main umbrella group of exiled opposition activists gathered in Cairo since Thursday, gave a different version. What is certain is that the attackers targeted civilians more than regime symbols. Of a different nature appeared the mortar attacks which targeted on Friday morning the army chief of staff command in Omayyadi square - already rocked by attacks in recent months - two security service offices in the Barze area on the outskirts of the city, and a government building near the Jahiz garden in the upscale Malki area where officials and diplomats live. No one has claimed responsibility for the Mazraa attack while rebels with the Free Syrian Army said they were behind the mortar attacks against regime targets this morning.

Meanwhile the government is cracking down as usual on rebel strongholds. According to anti-regime activists, 150 people were killed in Damascus, Homs, Dayr az Zor, Idlib, Hama and Daraa.

Clashes in the Homs region on the border with Lebanon are continuing between Qusayr Sunni rebels and Hezbollah militia who have been occupying some Shiite villages in Lebanon in the past few days in an attempt to reach government troops. (ANSAmed)

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