Rebel bomb attacks drag Syria into guerrilla war

 

Beirut

Several large bomb blasts rocked the Syrian capital Damascus yesterday, killing at least nine people and stoking fears of an increasingly bloody insurgency as rebels are forced to adopt guerrilla tactics while the international community stands idly by.

Activists reported at least four blasts in the city, the deadliest of them outside the Zeen al-Abadeen mosque in the Midan district.

They came on a day of violence across the country, with activists accusing the government of using shelling and gunfire to prevent peaceful protests.

Syrian state television Sana showed the carnage of the Midan explosion, with dismembered body parts and limbs strewn across the street.

It said at least nine were killed and scores injured in the atrocity, which it blamed on a "terrorist suicide bomber".

One resident said a man had approached soldiers and set off a bomb belt when challenged. However, some activists claimed the attack was staged by the government.

There has been little let-up in violence since a UN-brokered ceasefire a fortnight ago. UN observers and the international community are scrambling for an alternative course of action if the six-point plan put forwarded by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan fails.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, their protests increasingly rounding on the international community and UN observers.

Many demonstrations were broken up with bullets and tear gas, according to activists, who reported heavy shelling in Homs before Friday prayers.

"UN monitors, Allah is monitoring you," some 1,000 protesters in Zabadani, a Damascus suburb, chanted.

Referring to the Moroccan general heading the advance team of monitors, one protester held up a sign reading: "General Ahmed Himmiche is just another one of Assad's security guards." Just 15 of the advance team of 30 are currently in the country. The UN yesterday said the remaining half would arrive by Monday as it deflects criticism for the slow deployment.

Other blasts in Damascus yesterday a included one in Adawi, near the agricultural department of Damascus University. There were also reported car bomb attacks near a government facility hosting militiamen in the city's industrial area and in the city centre.

Mar Ram, a Damascus activist, said he heard the city centre blast, which was near the Zayed bin Thabet mosque.

"It was huge," he said. "All citizens of Damascus must have heard it.

"We started hearing ambulances. You could feel the tension in the air. They are saying it's a car bomb, we say it's the regime."

With international journalists largely barred from entering Syria, such reports are difficult to verify.

However, Free Syrian Army commanders confirmed to The Independent that with inferior firepower to the army, they are increasingly turning to homemade bombs.

The British Conservative Middle East Council, which made a fact-finding trip to Lebanon this month to meet refugees and the FSA, said the risk of an Iraq-style sectarian conflict – a narrative long exploited by the regime – had " become a self-fulfilling prophecy".

It said that as rebels turn to homemade explosives, it will provide an opportunity that Jihadist groups who specialise in them "will likely exploit".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones