‘Dozens’ dead in twin Damascus bombings

‘Dozens’ dead in twin Damascus bombings

DAMASCUS - Hürriyet Daily News with wires
‘Dozens’ dead in twin Damascus bombings

Al-Assad forces continue to pursue the rebels as fierce clashes continue in Aleppo. EPA photo

Twin attacks by suicide bombers on a Syrian Air Force compound near Damascus killed dozens of people Oct. 8, activists said yesterday, adding that it feared for the safety of hundreds of prisoners being held there.

Rebel suicide bombers struck on the night of Oct. 8 at an Air Force intelligence compound on the edge of the Syrian capital Damascus, killing or wounding at least 100 people, according to activists.

The militant al-Nusra Front said it had mounted the attack because the compound was used a center for torture and repression in the crackdown on the 18-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. “The decision was made to hit Air Force Intelligence because it is one of the most notorious security divisions, and a citadel of repression whose extent is known only to God,” read an Al-Nusra statement posted on social media outlets.

Activists living nearby said the bombing caused at least 100 casualties among security personnel, based on the number of ambulances that rushed to the scene and the enormity of the explosions. Security forces cordoned off the area and deployed snipers along routes leading to it.

“The fate of hundreds of prisoners being held in the basements of the [building] is still unknown,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

On the ground, Syrian troops also entered the rebel district of Khaldiyeh in the besieged central city of Homs. “Our valiant armed forces have secured large parts of the Khaldiyeh district and are now pursuing the remnants of the terrorists,” state television announced, using government terminology for the rebels.

Opposition leader enters Syria

Abdulbaset Sieda, the head of the main opposition Syrian National Council, entered the country on Oct. 8 for the first time since assuming his post in June, rebel sources said.

Sieda paid a visit to the town of Bab al-Hawa in the northwestern province of Idlib, on the border with Turkey, where he met with several leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army, sources said. Sieda was accompanied on his visit to rebel-held territory by several other SNC members and by General Mustafa al-Sheikh, the highest-ranking Syrian army officer to have defected to the opposition. The visit came as the exiled opposition said it was planning a major makeover to address concerns about how representative it is.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.