Dozens of civilians and soldiers were killed and wounded in multiple explosions in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria on Saturday and Sunday. Rebels and the Assad regime blame each other, days before the scheduled visit of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan.
The death toll in twin bombs Saturday at the regime’s security and intelligence buildings was reported at 27, and more than 140 others were wounded. Another explosion was reported at a Syrian army base and in a residential area in the city Aleppo on Sunday, killing an untold number of people.
Assad’s regime blamed “terrorists” for the bombings, but opposition leaders said Sunday that government forces already had closed off the road to the government buildings more than half an hour before the blasts. They said that the regime purposely bombed its own loyalists to frame the opposition in advance of Annan’s visit.
A third possibility is that Al Qaeda terrorists have infiltrated across the Syrian border and are aggravating unrest in hopes of being able to jump into a future power vacuum if Assad is forced out of power, or if he escapes or is killed.
Assad has survived the growing rebellion for a year, longer than the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt, Yemen and Libya. With more than 8,000 dead and tens of thousands of others wounded or having escaped to neighboring countries, his minority Alawite leadership has won the backing of China and Russia to avoid international sanctions. More than 200,000 others have been displaced from their homes and are now refugees, according to the United Nations.
The longer that Assad holds on to power at the expense of the majority Sunni Muslim population, the more likely the uprising will become a religious war, according to analysts.
Muslim preachers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have campaigned to raise money for the opposition, which has no chance of winning a military war against Assad’s heavily-armed military machine.