At least 29 killed in Syria; regime holds funerals of Damascus bombing

People pray at al-Hasan mosque in Damascus next to the coffins of people killed in an explosion in the Maidan district of the Syrian capital on Friday. (Reuters)

At least 29 people were killed by Syrian security forces on Saturday, the revolution’s general commission said, a day after a deadly bombing killed 26 people in the center of the capital Damascus.

The Syrian regime held funerals on Saturday for the people killed in a Damascus bombing that it called a “terrorist attack,” promising an “iron fist” response to the second such incident in two weeks.

The opposition has pointed the finger at the regime itself, as it did after similar attacks in the capital on Dec. 23, in which 44 people died.

The funerals were taking place in the al-Hassan mosque in the working-class Midan neighborhood where Friday’s attack took place.

As thousands of regime supporters gathered outside, many waving flags, Damascus mufti Bashir Eid preached a funeral sermon in the presence of several ministers, officials and ordinary people.

“With our souls and our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you,” the crowd outside chanted to President Bashar al-Assad.

The ruling party’s al-Baath daily devoted half of its Saturday issue to the attack, in which 63 people were also wounded, including two pages of color photos of the carnage.

The headline leading three pages of commentary and interviews said Syrians were calling for the perpetrators to be “struck with an iron fist.”

On Friday, the interior ministry said “we will strike with an iron fist all those who undermine the security of the nation.”

Another headline said “we are not afraid of oil money,” an allusion to alleged involvement in the 10-month-old pro-democracy uprising by Gulf Arab oil states.

And the official Ath-Thawra daily said “terrorism is uprooted, not cured, and its eradication is inevitable.”

It blamed Islamists, saying they “committed many crimes in the past and they are doing it again today as a sign of defiance.”

That was a reference to bloody attacks during a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion between 1978 and 1986 which was brutally crushed by Assad’s late father and predecessor, Hafez.

The Brotherhood, which has since renounced violence, said on Friday that “we hold the regime, its agents and its gangs, fully responsible for this crime.”

It had also accused the government of orchestrating the December 23 attacks that the regime blamed on Al-Qaeda, and called for an international probe, claiming the attack benefited the regime.

The umbrella Syrian National Council, which includes the Brotherhood, said Friday’s bombing “clearly bears the regime’s fingerprints.”

The United States condemned the attack, again calling for Assad to step down, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon said “all violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately.”

Assad ally Iran condemned the “terrorist attack.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said: “Without doubt, the unity and vigilance of the Syrian government and people are disappointing the enemies of Syria who think only of internal war, breaking up the country and making it submit to the demands of the axis of America and Zionism.”

The SNC said the U.N. Security Council had to take up the matter of the bloodshed, which the world body estimated in December had killed more than 5,000 people since pro-democracy protests erupted last March.

It said “a joint effort between the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council represents a first step toward the urgent and necessary measures to assure the protection of civilians, and to ensure that the regime does not commit additional bombings and killings.”

Activists have called for an Arab League observer mission that has been in the country since December 26 to admit its failure to stem the bloodshed and hand the task over to the United Nations.

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »