Car bombs kill 34 in pro-Assad Damascus suburb

 

Two car bombs killed at least 34 people in a district of Damascus loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the deadliest attack on the Syrian capital in months.

The explosions struck the eastern neighbourhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria's Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars.

Once a bastion of security in Assad's 20-month campaign to crush an uprising against his rule, Damascus has been hit with increasing regularity as the rebels grow bolder.

State media said a bomb also detonated in the southern town of Bosra al-Sham, near Deraa, where the revolt began with peaceful street protests in March 2011. It also said eight "terrorists" were killed near Damascus while they tried to booby-trap a car with a bomb.

Authorities severely limit independent media in Syria and it was not immediately possible to verify reports. The government said 34 people were killed in Damascus but did not give a casualty count for the Bosra al-Sham bombing.

The attacks followed two weeks of military gains by rebels who have stormed and taken army bases across Syria, exposing Assad's loss of control in northern and eastern regions despite the devastating air power which he has used to bombard opposition strongholds.

A resident of Jaramana said that rebels had been repeatedly forbidden by local Druze elders to operate in the district, which borders the capital's centre where government offices are located.

"Tension have risen between Druze elders and rebels and now there are 3 or 4 small explosions a week," she told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Underlining the growing military muscle of the rebels, bolstered by weapons captured during raids on army facilities as well as supplies from abroad, fighters shot down a war plane in northern Syria using an anti-aircraft missile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Opposition groups subsequently posted a video clip on the Internet that showed a man in a green jumpsuit being carried through fields. He was bleeding heavily from his head and appeared unconscious. "This is the pilot that attacked the houses of civilians," said a voice off camera.

Another video showed doctors treating the limp body of apparently the same pilot, who activists said ejected from his MiG 23 fighter jet before it crashed near Darat Ezza, about 30 km (20 miles) from Aleppo.

The bloodshed came as Syria's new opposition coalition held its first full meeting on Wednesday to discuss forming a transitional government crucial to win effective Arab and Western support for the revolt against Assad.

"The objective is to name the prime minister for a transitional government, or at least have a list of candidates," said Suhair al-Atassi, one of the coalition's two vice-presidents.

The two-day meeting in Cairo will also select committees to manage aid and communications, a process that is becoming a power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular members.

Rivalries have also intensified between the opposition in exile and rebels on the ground in Syria, where the death toll has reached 40,000, including soldiers, civilians and rebels.

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, described today's blasts as "terrorist bombings", a label it reserves for attacks by mainly Sunni Muslim fighters battling to overthrow Assad, a member of Syria's Alawite minority linked to Shi'ite Islam.

Two smaller bombs also exploded in Jaramana at about the same time as the car bombs, around 7 am (0500 GMT). In total at least 47 people were killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, giving a higher toll than the government. Eighty three people were seriously wounded, the British-based Observatory said.

"Who benefits from this? Tell me who benefits from this? America, Israel, Qatar?" a man at the bomb site said to Syrian television, which broadcast footage of firefighters hosing down the blackened hulks of two vehicles and several cars crushed by debris from neighbouring buildings.

Pools of blood could be seen on the road.

Most foreign powers have condemned Assad. Britain, France and Gulf countries have recognised the umbrella opposition group meeting in Cairo, the Syrian National Coalition, as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

But Assad has been able to rely on his allies, especially regional powerhouse Iran, which is believed to be bank-rolling him and supplying military support despite US and European sanctions. Russia, Syria's main arms supplier, says it has only sent weapons already agreed to in previous deals.

International Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is due to brief the 15-member council tomorrow and the UN General Assembly on Friday. There is diplomatic deadlock between Western powers, who broadly support the opposition and Assad's supporters Russia and China which have blocked Security Council action.

Reuters

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses papparrazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Organisational Change/ Transition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

Accountacy Tutor

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Randstad Education is looking...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis