Suicide bombers kill 55 in Syrian capital

A pair of suicide bombers killed at least 55 people and wounded 372 more in a coordinated attack on a military intelligence headquarters in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

One suicide bomber detonated his car packed with explosives outside of the Palestine Branch Military Intelligence headquarters at 8:00 a.m. local time, just as employees were arriving, Reuters reported. A second suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car as emergency personnel were responding to the attack and tending to the wounded.

The blasts were so powerful that the outer facade of the military intelligence headquarters and other buildings in the area collapsed, according to Al Jazeera.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack, but it was likely carried out by the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, a jihadist group that has claimed credit for three other suicide attacks in Syria. The Al Nusrah Front announced its formation on Jan. 23, in a video statement that was released on YouTube.

Another jihadist group, the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade, announced its formation in February, and said it would conduct suicide operations against the Syrian government. The Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade has yet to claim credit for any suicide attacks in Syria.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri has recently urged Muslims inside and outside of Syria to take up arms against the Syrian government. In a statement issued on Feb. 11 and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Zawahiri said: “I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honorable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in Syria with all what he can, with his life, money, wonders, opinion, and information.” Telling Syrians not to trust Turkey, the Arab League, or the West, he exhorted the “lions of the Levant” to “[d]evelop the intention of jihad in the Cause of Allah to establish a state that defends the Muslim countries and seeks to liberate the Golan and continue its jihad until it raises the banners of victory above the usurped hills of Jerusalem.”

Al Qaeda in Iraq already has a strong presence in Syria [see LWJ report, Eastern Syria becoming a new al Qaeda haven]. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a regional al Qaeda affiliate, also is known to operate in Syria. Two of its senior leaders, Saudi citizens Saleh al Qarawi and Suleiman Hamad Al Hablain, have been added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists since November 2011. The terror group has denied any involvement in the Dec. 23 suicide attack.

In the past, the Syrian resistance has denied that anti-government groups have carried out suicide attacks in Syria, and instead has blamed the bombings on the Syrian security services. However, the Free Syrian army resistance force recently bombed a carwash that allegedly catered to Assad’s forces; three people were killed in the blast, and 21 more were wounded.

President Bashir al Assad’s regime has been battling the Free Syrian Army in several of the country’s major cities. Assad’s security forces have ruthlessly attempted to suppress the rebellion. Syrian government forces have killed nearly 10,000 Syrians over the past year, indiscriminately shelling civilian areas and using armored vehicles and snipers to fire on civilians.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • J House says:

    If the USIC is aware that the ‘Syrian Free Army’ or other ‘rebel’ elements are responsible for this act of terrorism against the Syrian govt, the Obama admin is being quiet about knowing it, or condemning it. If this was conducted against Iraqi intelligence personnel in Baghdad, it would have been rightly condemned by the US govt and attributed to AQ or ‘insurgents’.
    US policy is regime change in Syria, but turning a blind eye to car bombings should not be.

  • Alex says:

    Here’s my concern: this attack gets used as propaganda for Assad’s regime in the sense of “don’t get involved with helping the pro-democracy rebels or AQ is going to take over.”

  • blert says:

    J House,
    The Syrian intelligence services were up past their eyeballs blowing up Iraq.
    This is know in the argot as ‘blowback.’

  • Villiger says:

    More of the same–muslims killing muslims. Whose to say which are good and which are bad? Fact is they are all, pretty much, medieval. I mean those actively involved in violence and those passively supporting the violence, whichever side. They are all from a culture i don’t understand. Sad state of affairs.

  • J House says:

    I have no doubt the Syrian govt was doing everything in its power to see Americans bleed in Iraq. Believe me, I have no love for Assad or his father, and know what Syria is capable of.
    However, whether the terrorists are for Syria or against Syria, they are still terrorists.
    If the US govt cannot condemn terrorism in all forms, what is the point?
    In addition, the US is providing direct non-lethal assistance to the ‘resistance’ forces right now.
    Will it be used to plan terrorist attacks like this one against the Syrian govt?

  • sundoesntrise says:

    J House has a good point about terrorism – but sadly it will become lost in all the political blather of our modern age.
    The U.S. like any other entity has it’s own goals and it’s own mission to accomplish based on it’s own interests – and it will achieve it’s goals by any means necessary, even if it means contradicting itself and becoming a hypocrite at certain points in time.

  • HJM says:

    Here’s the reason we are holding back support for the rebels. Who’s really running the show? Are average Syrians turning themselves into suicide bombers? I’d continue to sit back and stay out of this until we have a much clearer picture.


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