A Syrian opposition leader said on Friday that President Bashar Assad's regime is trying to destroy a U.N.-brokered peace plan for the country.
The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings a day earlier that killed 55 people in Damascus.
On Friday, a pro-government TV station cited by The Associated Press said security forces prevented another massive bombing in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, shooting dead a suicide attacker shortly before he detonated a mini bus filled with 1,500 kilograms of explosives.
Ikhbariya TV broadcast footage of a Syrian police general showing two UN observers the minibus and four large metal containers that were rigged with explosives. A bearded and bloodied dead man was in the driver's seat wearing what appeared to be an explosive belt. The station said the man tried to detonate the minibus Friday afternoon in the busy neighborhood of Shaar.
Meanwhile, in a news conference in Tokyo, Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said there would be no peaceful solution to the violence in Syria without “a threat of force against those who don't implement the plan.”
“Assad feels that he can run away from implementing all of his obligations without any consequences,” Ghalioun was quoted by AP as having said.
Ghalioun suggested the regime was somehow behind the blasts as a way to taint the uprising.
“The relationship between the Syrian regime and al-Qaeda is very strong,” he said.
The rebel Free Syrian Army also condemned the attacks and blamed the regime for staging them as a way to bolster its claims that terrorists are behind the uprising against Assad.
“The Syrian regime wanted through these terrorist explosions to support its silly story of the presence of armed and terrorist gangs,” said a statement by the group. AP reported the statement was read by a man who identified himself as Col. Qassim Saad-Eddine and delivered in a video broadcast.
Ghalioun was visiting Tokyo at the government's invitation and is appealing for diplomatic support and more humanitarian aid. Japan has already provided $3 million in aid, and Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Thursday during his meeting with Ghalioun that Tokyo was considering adding to that.
Ghalioun told journalists that Assad's government had recently been resorting to terrorist tactics to keep people from going out on the streets to demonstrate.
“The Annan plan is in crisis today,” he said, adding that the plan will die if Assad's government keeps on challenging it and “continues using terrorist bombings.”
He was referring to the UN-backed six-point peace plan brokered by UN special envoy Kofi Annan.
The plan called for an April 12 ceasefire, but that date is now a month past-due and has yet to be honored by the Assad regime.
“We believe that now we cannot reach any compromise through negotiations if Bashar Assad is still in power because he will try to abort any initiative that is based on a political solution,” Ghalioun said, warning that tf the Annan plan fails “the only choice for us will be armed conflict.”
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters that intelligence indicates there is an “al-Qaeda presence in Syria.”
“Frankly we need to continue to do everything we can to determine what kind of influence they're trying to exert there,” Panetta said.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)