2011 Damascus bombings

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2011 Damascus bombings
Part of Syrian civil war
Location Damascus, Syria
Date 23 December 2011 (UTC+3)
Attack type
Car bombs, shooting
Deaths 44
Non-fatal injuries
166
Suspected perpetrators
Al-Qaeda ; Syrian government ; al-Nusra Front

On 23 December 2011, two seemingly coordinated bombings occurred in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The alleged suicide car bombs exploded outside Syrian military intelligence agency buildings, killing 44 people and injuring 166. According to Syrian state media, most of the dead were civilians. The attacks took place during the Syrian uprising. The Syrian government blamed Islamist militants, while the Syrian opposition accused the government of staging the attacks to justify its crackdown on the uprising.

Background[edit]

On the same day as the attacks, an Arab League team of observers arrived in Syria to monitor the government's activities and push towards a solution of the nine-month uprising against the government. Officials from the visiting team later visited the sites of both explosions.[1] Government officials escorted the team to the scene of the explosions and re-iterated their longtime claims that the uprising is not a popular one but the work of terrorists.[2]

Bombings[edit]

The bombings were in the Kfar Sousa neighbourhood, south-west of Damascus city center. The state-owned news channel, al-Ikhbariya al-Suriya, said the first car bomb exploded outside the offices of an unspecified security agency.[3] When guards at a nearby General Security Directorate compound went to inspect the first blast, the driver of another vehicle rammed the main gates and detonated the bomb it was carrying.[3] According to a Syrian journalist who lives in Kfar Sousa, gunfire was heard immediately following the blasts and windows up to 200 m (670 ft) away were shattered.[3]

The bombings killed 44 people and injured 166.[4] Syrian state media reported that most of the casualties are civilians.[5]

Perpetrators[edit]

Al-Qaeda[edit]

Immediately, the Syrian government claimed that al-Qaeda was behind these attacks. That Syrian claim was dismissed within a day by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird as propaganda. Also the Syrian National Council dismissed it, as Syrian attempt to stoke Western fears for Islamist and extremist elements in the Syrian uprising.[6]

Syrian government[edit]

Syrian opposition leaders accused the government of staging the attacks to justify its crackdown on the uprising.[7] Also former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri claimed the bombings were "engineered" by the Syrian government.[8] The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main anti-regime paramilitary group, accused the government of perpetrating the attack to gain sympathy from the Arab League and its observers, who had arrived just before the bombings.[9] The Syrian National Council said "the Syrian regime, alone, bears all the direct responsibility for the two terrorist explosions", adding that the government wanted to create the impression "that it faces danger coming from abroad and not a popular revolution demanding freedom and dignity".[4]

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an affiliate of al Qaeda in Iraq that operates throughout the Middle East, on 28 December 2011 denied all involvement in the suicide attacks, and called the regime’s blame on al-Qaeda an attempt to deflect attention from its own brutal crackdown on protesters: “The only truly responsible for them is he who is benefiting from them (…) the regime of al Assad and his intelligence agencies”.[10]

Syrian intelligence[edit]

Mohammed Tayfour — the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's 'Deputy Guide'—told Al Arabiya television that Syrian intelligence created a fake MB website and published a fake statement.[11][12] He also said that, according to sources close to the Brotherhood, Syrian intelligence was behind the bombings.[13]

Jabhat al-Nusra[edit]

In January 2013, commentator Jamie Dettmer for website The Daily Beast stated, without corroboration, that the Al-Nusra Front perpetrated the attack, and that the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center assumed it to be carried out by two female suicide bombers from Iraq.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Arab League team visit Damascus blast sites – TV". Reuters. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Press, Associated. (2011-09-21) Syria: Twin Suicide Bombs Shake Capital, 30 Dead. Salon.com. Retrieved on 24 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "UN Security Council condemns Syria suicide attacks". BBC News. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Muslim Brotherhood denies Syria bombing claim". Agence France-Presse. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Forty killed, 100 wounded in Damascus blasts -TV". Reuters. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Baird dismisses claim al-Qaida responsible for attacks". Vancouver Sun. Canada. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Syria says twin suicide bombings in Damascus kill 44. Bbc.co.uk. 23 December 2011. Retrieved on 24 December 2011.
  8. ^ Syria: 'bomb attacks' in Damascus – Friday 23 December. Guardian. 23 December 2011. Retrieved on 24 December 2011.
  9. ^ Free Syrian Army Chief of Staff blames regime for twin blasts. Nowlebanon.com. 24 December 2011. Retrieved on 24 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Adbullah Azzam Brigades denies responsibility for Damascus suicide attacks - The Long War Journal". 28 December 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood denies claiming responsibility for Damascus bombings". Al Arabiya. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Syrian Muslim Brotherhood denies claims of involvement in Damascus blasts". Now Lebanon. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  13. ^ Breaking: Syrian Muslim Brotherhood claim of carrying out bombings 'fake'. English.ahram.org.eg. 24 December 2011. Retrieved on 24 December 2011.
  14. ^ ‘Jihadists Are Creeping Into Syria’s Rebel Factions’. The Daily Beast, 4 January 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2015.