Two bombings rock Damascus
Damascus - Twin bombings in the Syrian capital early on Saturday killed police and civilians, state television said, without giving any immediate breakdown, as fears mounted al-Qaeda is trying to exploit the year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"Two terrorist bombings struck Damascus this morning," the television said, adding that preliminary reports suggested the bombers had blown up vehicles packed with explosives.
It said police and civilians were among the dead but gave no numbers.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that two powerful explosions targeted security service buildings in the capital.
A spate of bombings have hit Syria's big cities in recent months amid growing concerns that al-Qaeda has taken advantage of a year-old uprising against Assad's regime to shift its focus of operations from neighbouring Iraq.
On March 3, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in Daraa, south of Damascus, cradle of the protest movement that erupted in March 2011, killing two people and wounding 20, including security force personnel, the official Sana news agency reported.
On January 6, a car bomb exploded in Damascus killing 26 people and wounding dozens more, most of them civilians. State media said it was a suicide attack and blamed "terrorists".
The blast came after twin bombs hit security services bases in the capital on December 23, with state media pointing the finger at al-Qaeda.
Twin car bombs in the northern city of Aleppo on February 10 killed 28 people and wounded 235.
The US has resisted mounting calls from its Gulf Arab allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the arming of rebels fighting loyalists troops for fear that the weapons might fall into the hands of the jihadists.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri voiced his support for the Syrian uprising in a February video message released on jihadist internet forums.
In the video titled "Onward, Lions of Syria", Zawahiri criticised the Syrian regime for crimes against its citizens, and praised those rising up against the government.
The White House said late in February that al-Qaeda's efforts to take advantage of violence in Syria mean it is no time to send arms to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Without getting into assessments of our intelligence capabilities, I would simply say that we are aware of the fact that al-Qaeda and other extremists are seeking to take advantage of the situation created by Assad's brutal assault on the opposition," said White House spokesperson Jay Carney.