Two suicide bombers driving cars carried out attacks against the Syrian army command headquarters in Damascus, killing four guards, state television reported, citing an unidentified military official.
Footage aired on state TV showed a white microbus blow up on the street outside the facility. Less than 10 minutes later, a second explosion unleashed a ball of fire inside the premises. The attacks were followed by indiscriminate shooting by gunmen, according to state-run SANA news agency.
At least 14 people were injured, the television station said. A reporter for Iran’s Press TV, Maya Naser, was killed by a sniper while covering the blasts and the station’s Damascus bureau chief, Hosein Mortada, was injured, the Iranian station said on its website. It blamed rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the attacks on its journalists.
Assad’s forces have struggled to maintain security in Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo, the country’s largest city, after rebels pushed into neighborhoods of both cities in July. A bomb attack in Damascus that month killed key members of Assad’s military establishment, including his brother-in-law, Major General Assef Shawkat, and Defense Minister Dawoud Rajhah.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told Syrian TV that the country is “facing a war” and “we are ready to face it.”
Violence across the country has killed at least 216 people today, including 138 in Damascus and its suburbs, according to the Local Coordination Committees in Syria.
Qatar’s emir called for an Arab-led intervention in Syria to stop a conflict that has dragged on since March 2011.
After the UN Security Council’s failure to act, “it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and to do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the 193-member General Assembly yesterday.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Arabi told reporters in New York today that he believed the Qatari proposal did not mean the use of the military.
France has been in talks with Qatar, Jordan and Turkey about establishing protected civilian zones in Syria, French President Francois Hollande told journalists in New York yesterday after his United Nations General Assembly address.
Qatar has led the group of Persian Gulf nations seeking more far-reaching measures to end Assad’s rule, including arming the opposition, a step widely criticized by the UN and Western nations. Al Thani suggested Arab nations should act in unison and intervene in Syria as they did in the 15-year civil war in Lebanon.
International and regional efforts have failed to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria, where at least 28,000 people have been killed, according to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.