Suicide Attack Kills 9 Near Damascus as Ceasefire Erodes
A suicide bomber attacked a group of Syrian security forces near a mosque in a Damascus suburb on Friday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens of others as state media reported at least two other bombings around the capital in the most recent signs of the erosion in the United Nations-monitored ceasefire.
Activists in the neighborhood of the mosque in the Midan suburb south of the capital and residents said some civilians were wounded in that blast and that security forces opened fire immediately afterwards, scattering crowds of worshippers.
One person was killed and several others were wounded in the two other blasts, according to state media.
The three strikes followed the reported killing of security forces in and around Damascus this week and were the latest in a series of attacks that the Syrian government has blamed on “terrorists” seeking to destabilize the government. Syrian state television said the bomber in Midan had detonated his weapon after approaching a group of security forces who were assembled near the mosque to monitor possible protests after Friday prayers.
Some civilians blamed the government. One resident said worshippers, who had been planning to join anti-government protests, were targeted, while some opposition activists said that the Syrian government carried out the attack on security forces to paint the uprising, which began as a broad-based protest movement, as devolving into violent extremism.The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he was “gravely alarmed” by the continued killing in Syria. “Shelling and explosions in residential areas go on,” he said in prepared remarks at a news conference in India. “U.N. military observers report of heavy weapons in population areas. This is in clear contravention to what the Syrian government has already agreed.”
Mr. Ban’s remarks underscored the international community’s inability to halt the violence despite sanctions, two separate observer missions and the declaration of a ceasefire more than two weeks ago. Also on Friday, Mr. Ban announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Robert Mood of Norway to oversee the United Nations mission, which is set to expand in the coming weeks to 300 military observers from the advanced guard of 15 now in the country.