Bombs hit Syrian capital amid regime offensive

DAMASCUS, Syria — Twin suicide bombers targeted a police station in the center of Damascus Tuesday, killing at least 14 people as regime forces aggressively pressed ahead with an offensive on rebel strongholds elsewhere in the country.

The rush-hour blasts in Damascus, which caused extensive damage to cars and storefronts, demonstrated the ability of insurgents to strike deep in the heart of President Bashar Assad's regime despite a series of recent setbacks on the battlefield.

Syrian state TV quoted a security official as saying two suicide bombers struck near a police station in the bustling Marjeh Square near the Interior Ministry. He said 14 people were killed and 31 were wounded.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, put the death toll at 15 and said one of the explosions was caused by a man who blew himself up inside the police station while the other detonated his explosives outside the station. The Observatory said most of those killed were policemen.

There was no claim of responsibility for the blasts.

The bombings were the first such attacks to target the capital since regime forces, backed by fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, chased rebels from the strategic town of Qusair nearly a week ago.

Building on its victory in Qusair, the Syrian military has shifted its attention to try to clear rebel-held areas in the central Homs province, a linchpin area linking Damascus with regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast, and the northern city of Aleppo.

On Tuesday, activists reported intensified clashes in Homs and its suburbs as the army closed in on besieged, rebel-held neighborhoods of the provincial capital.

Headed home: Syrian refugees board a bus in Baghdad on Tuesday to return to Syria and reunite with their families. There are growing signs, such as Iraqi border posts coming under attack, that areas of Iraq and Syria are morphing into a single battlefield for militants, exacerbating Iraq’s slide into renewed deadly chaos a decade after Saddam Hussein’s fall.

Associated Press

Headed home: Syrian refugees board a bus in Baghdad on Tuesday to return to Syria and reunite with their families. There are growing signs, such as Iraqi border posts coming under attack, that areas of Iraq and Syria are morphing into a single battlefield for militants, exacerbating Iraq’s slide into renewed deadly chaos a decade after Saddam Hussein’s fall.

Concern by U.S.

Recent gains by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have raised alarms in Washington and added a sense of urgency to calls for the international community to arm the rebels. U.S. officials said President Barack Obama and his national security staff plan to meet today to weigh options for providing assistance to the rebel fighters, and a decision could happen this week.

Concern by U.S.

Recent gains by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have raised alarms in Washington and added a sense of urgency to calls for the international community to arm the rebels. U.S. officials said President Barack Obama and his national security staff plan to meet today to weigh options for providing assistance to the rebel fighters, and a decision could happen this week.

Bombs hit Syrian capital amid regime offensive 06/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:41am]

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