Syria unrest: UN condemns Damascus 'suicide blasts'

Lyse Doucet at the scene: "The blasts took place in the early morning rush hour, when children were going to school"

The UN Security Council has condemned car bomb attacks that killed at least 55 people and wounded almost 400 in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Thursday.

The council urged all sides to "immediately and comprehensively" implement the peace plan for Syria.

Syrian officials say "foreign-backed terrorists" carried out a twin suicide car-bomb attack in Damascus.

The bombs exploded near a military intelligence building during the morning rush hour.

The 15-member of the Security Council members "condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks", a statement said.

The council also called on all sides to comply with the six-point peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, "in particular to cease all armed violence."

There is growing international concern that jihadi fighters linked to Al Qaeda may be behind some of the bombings in Syria.

If so they would represent a third force not party to Kofi Annan's peace plan, which is aimed at creating the conditions for a political settlement between the government and the opposition.

UN Security Council members acknowledge the plan is under strain but say they don't see any alternative to it.

Syria's ambassador to the UN accused Arab and other foreign powers of supplying and supporting armed groups. He urged the UN to take steps to stop such activity.

The Syrian government and rebel forces are supposed to observe a ceasefire monitored by a UN team.

However violence has continued unabated across the country.

Central Damascus is under the firm control of government forces, but the city has been hit by several bombings in recent months, often targeting security buildings or military convoys.

Thursday's attacks were the deadliest in the capital since the start of Syria's uprising 14 months ago.

Military intelligence

The interior ministry said the attackers used two cars "loaded with more than 1,000kg of explosives and driven by suicide bombers".

The explosions damaged the facade of a 10-storey military intelligence building involved in the crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

At the scene

At one of the main Damascus hospitals, a doctor says it is the worst emergency he has seen, the injuries are severe. We see more than body bags at the morgue - the corpses are charred sticks, with limbs torn off.

Whoever did this wanted to cause the most damage possible because the blast took place during early morning rush hour.

Every time something happens in Syria, there are two narratives. We have spoken to angry people who blame Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey - countries which have come out in support of the Syrian opposition.

Grieving families cursed the opposition. The opposition alleges as always that this was the cynical work of the government itself to try to discredit the opposition.

It is part of a broader military compound of the Palestine Branch, one of the most feared among the more than 20 secret police organisations in the country, correspondents say.

The unit was originally set up in the 1950s to interrogate suspected Israeli spies. But it has evolved into the country's counter-terrorism unit, and is infamous for interrogations and torture, they say.

Large crowds gathered despite the security cordon, shouting slogans and chants in support of President Assad.

The Norwegian head of the UN observer mission in Syria, Maj Gen Robert Mood, visited the site. He said the Syrian people did not deserve this "terrible violence".

The US state department also condemned the attack, saying indiscriminate killing could not be justified. It called on the Syrian government to "fully and immediately implement the Annan plan".

The call was echoed by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said the people of Syria were "suffering as a result of the repression and violence, which must come to an end".

Recent blasts in Damascus

  • 5 May: Two blasts cause damage, but no-one is hurt.
  • 27 April: An explosion in the centre of Damascus near a mosque kills at least 10 people and wounds 20 others.
  • 2 April: A bomb explodes near a police station and hotel in the central Marja district of Damascus, injuring at least four people.
  • 17 March: At least 27 people are killed and nearly 100 wounded in two explosions said to be targeting buildings housing the criminal police and aviation intelligence.

Homs shelling

The opposition says the attacks were carried out by the government itself to discredit rebel forces.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army bombarded the city of Homs overnight.

Opposition activists described the bombardment as some of the heaviest shelling in Homs for weeks.

Eleven UN monitors are now stationed there to try to implement a ceasefire.

The observers are in the country as part of the joint UN-Arab League peace plan and began deploying last month.

There are now 105 monitors in the whole country, but their presence has had no effect in quelling the violence. A total of 300 are due to be sent in the coming weeks.

The UN says at least 9,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011.

Damascus map

Are you in Damascus? Did you witness the blasts? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on This Story

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.