Twin blasts strike Syrian city of Daraa

 

Two large explosions shook Syria's southern city of Daraa today, causing multiple casualties and heavy material damage, the country's state-run news agency and activists said.

The Sana agency did not immediately give further information or say what the target of the explosions was, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said the blasts went off near a branch of the country's military intelligence in Daraa.

The Observatory said the explosions were followed by clashes between regime forces and rebels fighting to topple president Bashar Assad.

The southern city of Daraa was the birthplace of the Syrian uprising against Assad, which erupted in March 2011. The conflict began largely with peaceful protests against Assad's rule but turned bloody after rebels took up arms in response to the regime's crackdown.

The crisis has since morphed into a vicious civil war and in recent months, rebels have driven regime forces out of much of a pocket of north-western Syria and are battling troops in several cities and towns, even as the fight takes on dangerous sectarian tones between a mainly Sunni opposition and a regime dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Explosions targeting state security institutions have become frequent in recent months, and military intelligence branches in Damascus and other cities have been hit. Most dramatically in July, rebels detonated explosives inside a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus, killing four top regime officials, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defence minister.

Activists say more than 36,000 people have died in Syria during the nearly 20-month-old conflict.

The explosions in Daraa come a day after as many as 11,000 people were said to have fled Syria over just 24 hours, to escape fierce fighting between rebels and government forces - the latest surge of refugees fleeing the civil war.

The flood of Syrians into neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon was "the highest that we have had in quite some time," said Panos Moumtzis, the UN refugee agency's regional co-ordinator for the region said Friday.

About 2,000 to 3,000 people are fleeing Syria daily, and the recent surge brings the number registered with the UNHCR to more than 408,000, he said.

The largest flow into Turkey came from the fighting at Ras al-Ayn in the predominantly Kurdish oil-producing north-eastern province of al-Hasaka, where rebels were fighting government forces.

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