Big Blasts Reported in Syrian Capital
June 28, 2012
Syrian media reported two massive explosions in the middle of Damascus. The twin blasts in a parking lot near the Justice Ministry, were in the Marja neighborhood of the capital. Firefighters battled the resulting fire. Three people were injured, and 20 cars were damaged.
The report came just a day after armed opposition forces stormed a government-leaning TV station and killed seven people in the process. Attacks in the capital and nearby Aleppo have increased in recent months.
Violence continued across the country, notably in a Douma, a Damascus suburb, and Homs, a hotbed of opposition power that has for months been a target of government military activity resulting in hundreds of deaths. The one-day death toll reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was 140, with 46 being government forces.
Human rights groups say that the overall death toll is well over 10,000. Recently, pro-government forces in Homs denied access to medical teams from the Red Cross. Representatives of that organization and of the Arab Red Crescent, a similar aid organization, said they had been repeatedly denied access to Homs and other ares of devastation.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad continues to blame attacks against his forces and against humanitarian groups on foreign terrorists. For the first time this week, Assad said his country was at war. He repeated his warning against intervention by armed forces of other countries.
Thousands of Syrians have escaped the fighting by fleeing their homeland, ending up in nearby Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The United Nations World Food Programme has begun a food assistance program for Syrian refugees.
Tensions along the Syria-Turkey border remained high in the aftermath of Syria's downing of a Turkish jet, resulting in the deaths of two airmen. Representatives of both countries issued conflicting reports of the activities and intent of the plane and its crew.
Diplomats of many other countries have been working to find a peaceful solution to the escalating violence. Kofi Annan, the special envoy for Syria representing both the United Nations and the Arab League, had put forth a six-point peace plan that both sides had ostensibly agreed to, but the violence has not stopped. Annan, a former U.N. Secretary-General, will meet with top diplomats from the members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Turkey, in an emergency summit this weekend in Geneva. The group, named the Action Group for Syria, is meant to include representatives of the European Union and the Arab League as well.