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27 dead, 140 hurt in Syria blasts

At least 27 people have been killed and 140 others injured when twin suicide car bombs struck intelligence and security buildings in the Syrian capital today, according to state media.

State TV aired gruesome images of the scene, with mangled and charred bodies, bloodstained streets and twisted steel.

"All our windows and doors are blown out," said Majed Seibiyah, 29, who lives in the area of one of the blasts. "I was sleeping when I heard a sound like an earthquake. I didn't grasp what was happening until I heard screaming in the street."

A third blast was reported at a refugee camp housing thousands of Palestinians in Damascus, but the two bombers were the only casualties, the Syrian Arab News Agency (Sana) said.

The explosions were the latest in a string of mysterious, large-scale attacks targeting the Syrian regime's military and security installations. Dozens of people have been killed by blasts and suicide bombings since December, even as the regime wages a bloody crackdown against the year-old uprising against President Bashar Assad.

The government has blamed the explosions on the "terrorists" that it claims are behind the revolt. The opposition has denied the allegations, saying they believe forces loyal to the government are behind the bombings to tarnish the uprising.

However top US intelligence officials have also pointed to al Qaida in Iraq as the likely culprit behind the previous bombings, raising the possibility that its fighters are infiltrating across the border to take advantage of the turmoil. Al Qaida's leader called for Mr Assad to step down in February.

A suspected al Qaida presence creates new obstacles for the US, its Western allies and Arab states trying to figure out a way to help push Mr Assad from power, and may also rally Syrian religious minorities, fearful of Sunni radicalism, to get behind the regime.

Bassma Kodmani, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said she doubted the armed groups trying to bring Mr Assad down by force, such as the rebel Free Syrian Army, have the capacity to carry out such attacks on security institutions in the capital.

An Interior Ministry statement tied today's explosions to "the escalation seen recently by regional and international sides, which was consecrated with their open calls for sending weapons to Syria". The statement said Syria "will act decisively against anyone who dares strike the security, stability and unity of the country".

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