May 25, 2013
Syrian rebels bomb army command in Damascus
Syrian rebels bombed a military complex in Damascus, striking at the heart of President Bashar al-Assad's power and igniting a fire which gutted the army command headquarters.
The Free Syrian Army, the main rebel force fighting to overthrow Assad, claimed responsibility for the attack in central Damascus which it said killed dozens of people.
An armed forces statement said no military leaders were hurt and only a number of guards were wounded in the blasts, which shook the whole city at around 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) before regular working hours.
It was the biggest attack in Damascus since July 18 when a blast killed several senior security officials, including Assad's brother-in-law, the defense minister and a general.
Wednesday's attack took place as international leaders met at the United Nations, where deadlock between world powers over Syria has blocked any global response to the conflict which activists say has killed 27,000 people, forced a quarter of a million refugees to flee the country and left 2.5 million people in need of help.
The uprising, which erupted in March last year as mainly peaceful protests for reform, has become an armed insurgency pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, from the Alawite faith which is close to Shi'ite Islam.
Shi'ite Iran supports Assad while regional Sunni powers have backed the rebels. One Sunni leader, the Emir of Qatar, told the United Nations that Arab countries should intervene "to stop the bloodshed", but few Arab states are likely to back his call.
U.N. special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said Syria's crisis was "extremely bad and getting worse."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence through a network of activists in the country, said 240 people were killed in Syria on Tuesday. Most were civilians but the death toll included 54 members of Assad's security forces.