Syrians Pay Last Respects to Blast Victims

A person holds up a picture of Dima Farah, who was killed in Thursday’s suicide bomb attack, in front of her coffin during her funeral at the Mar Elias monastery in Damascus May 12, 2012. [Photo: Reuters]


Amid the sobbing and wailing of relatives, a funeral procession was held Saturday for 55 people, who were killed two days ago in twin suicide bombings that struck an intelligence compound in the Syrian capital of Damascus, as the government pledges to hit back hard at terrorism.

Hundreds of the victims’ family members and friends assembled at al-Othman Mosque in al-Maysat neighborhood for prayers to honor the victims in an atmosphere thick with grief and tears.

Some were groaning and sobbing in pain while hoisting the posters of the deceased people.

Mourners carried on their shoulders the coffins, which were draped with the Syrian flag.

On Thursday, two suicide bombers blew themselves up before an intelligence complex in Damascus, leaving scenes of destruction and more than 55 people, mostly civilians, killed.

The bombing is considered one of the deadliest since the unrest began in Syria last March.

The blast occurred when two suicide bombers riding two explosive-laden cars detonated themselves at the entrance of the security complex, which is located near al-Qazzaz intersection.

An al-Qaida-inspired group calling itself al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant has claimed responsibility for the deadly twin suicide bombings.

In an online video, the group claimed that their attack came in response to “the regime’s ongoing shelling of the residential areas in Damascus’ suburbs, Idlib and Hama provinces.”

“We have fulfilled our promise to respond with strikes and explosions,” the group said.

“We say to the regime: Stop your massacres against the Sunni people, and if not, you will bear the sin of the Alawites,” said the group, referring to the Shi’ite Islam off-shoot to which the Syrian president and many of Syria’s ruling elite belong.

The group warned worse violence are coming in the future and advised the Sunnis, who account for the overwhelming majority of Syria’s 23-million population, to stay away from security and army bases, which are heavily deployed in residential areas nationwide.

The authenticity of the online footage cannot be independently checked, but the group has previously claimed responsibilities for bombings in several Syrian areas.

After the blast, Syrian foreign ministry said that Syria will move forward in fighting terrorism and defending its citizens despite the terrorist attacks it has been subject to.

The interior ministry has also vowed to track down the ” criminals and those who harbor and fund them,” adding that it would not tolerate those who are messing with the country’s security and stability.

The latest attack has drawn international condemnation, as some observers said the bombing undermined the peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League special joint envoy Kofi Annan, who warned that with the persistence of violence, Syria might descend into full- scale civil war.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN observers’ mission in Syria Maj- Gen Robert Mood said Saturday that the situation in Syria is now ” calm,” noting that there are now 157 civilian and military observers stationing in four Syrian provinces.

In statements to journalists on Saturday, Mood said “There are more than 50 countries involved in the mission, and we are working to help the Syrian people who fully understand that we are working to help them,” adding that the Syrians have shown remarkable hospitality, even the bereaved who lost loved ones.

The observers arrived in Syria last month to monitor the implementation of Annan’s six-point peace plan that calls mainly for the halt of all violence by both sides of the conflict in order to pave the way for a political settlement to the 14-month unrest.

However, the opposition has shown thin patience towards the observers’ mission, as the head of the rebels fighters stated that the observers “have become perjurers.”

Some banners have also been lifted in some opposition protests, urging the observers to leave. “Your presence hurts us,” one of the banners read.

The opposition has claimed that many activists have been detained after meeting with observers, saying that the observers’ tours and their meetings with activists have to some extent helped the government to locate the whereabouts of those activists and arrested them later.

The international community has shown commitment to the Annan plan as the most suitable means to bring the Syrian crisis to a close. The Syrian government has also stressed its commitment to facilitating the observers’ mission in order to make it a success.

Also see:
Crimson Satellite Syria News


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