Four army HQ guards killed in Damascus blasts: military
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Firefighters stand among debris after bombs exploded in a school building in Damascus September 25, 2012 in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS photoFour troops guarding the Syrian military headquarters in Damascus were killed today when twin blasts blamed on suicide bombers targeted the building, state television reported.
"Four of the troops guarding the military headquarters died of their wounds, and 14 other civilians and soldiers were injured in the terrorist attacks," the television cited a military official as saying.
The broadcaster showed video footage of a white van exploding on the roadside next to the building housing the headquarters, and a second blast inside the compound.
It said the two sets of footage were taken at 10 minute intervals of each other.
"The initial investigation shows that these terrorist explosions around and inside the army headquarters were caused by two car bombs driven by suicide attackers," a military official told the television station.
The rebel Free Syrian Army's Military Council in Damascus and its province said on its Facebook page that "the Free Syrian Army attacked the military headquarters on Umayyad Square." It was impossible to immediately confirm this claim.
A rebel spokesman and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was carried out with the assistance of troops inside the heavily guarded building, however.
"The operation was carried out by several Free Syrian Army battalions working with an officer and his troops on the inside," said Ahmed al-Khatib, spokesman for the FSA's Military Council in Damascus.
Khatib confirmed the attack was staged with two car bombs, but denied they were driven by suicide attackers.
"A few minutes after the attack, fighters broke into the HQ compound with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades," said Khatib.
The FSA has never claimed responsibility for suicide attacks, unlike anti-regime Islamist groups that operate autonomously and have claimed such assaults.
According to Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, who is in contact with activists on the ground, there was heavy fighting for several hours around the complex after the attack.
"It seems the operation was carried out thanks to a mutiny from within the ranks of the army headquarter's general staff," said Abdel Rahman.
"There are officers inside the headquarters who are close to the revolt, and who made this operation possible." It was the most violent attack in Damascus since July 18, when four top security officials, including President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, were killed.
According to an AFP photographer in Damascus, today's attack shattered the windows of the army building and left a two meter-deep crater outside the complex.