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'17 people die' in Syria bombings

Suicide bombers targeted security compounds in the Syrian capital on Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding several others, the latest in a rise of violence in Damascus as the regime tries to defend its seat of power.

A car bomb also killed 12 regime soldiers in the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists in Syria for information. It had no other details and the government did not immediately confirm the attack.

The state-run news agency SANA said three suicide bombers blew themselves up while trying to break into the Rukneddine police station in northern Damascus, killing five people and wounding several others.

It said three would-be suicide bombers also bombers tried to break into the Criminal Security Branch in the southern Bab Mousalla area but were caught by security forces before they could detonate their explosives.

Activists confirmed the death toll.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the Damascus explosions but they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida linked groups that have joined forces with rebels fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.

The attacks in Syria's two largest cities came as Mr Assad's forces press an offensive in the outskirts of the capital and a day after an 11-nation group that includes the US met in the Qatari capital of Doha to coordinate military aid and other forms of assistance to the rebels.

SANA carried a statement by the Interior Ministry saying that the Damascus attacks amount to a "new escalation by terrorist groups," a term used by the government to refer to the rebels.

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