Syrian Army Headquarters Bombed; Rebels Seize Oilfield
A bomb exploded yesterday near the Syrian army’s headquarters in Damascus in an attack claimed by rebel forces that also were said to have seized control of an oilfield in the east.
The blast occurred near an officers’ club and close to the government workers’ union parking lot, according to Dubai-based television network Al Arabiya. Syrian state TV said several people were injured in the attack, which the government blamed on “terrorists.” Two of the 12 union members hurt by shattered glass were in critical condition, the Associated Press reported, citing union chief Mohammad Azouz.
The insurgent Free Syrian Army killed, wounded or captured 40 guards at the El Ward oilfield in Deir Ezzor province after a siege of several days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said by e-mail from London. Rebels captured a tank, armored personnel carrier, army truck and ammunition, the group said.
The flare-ups followed a rebel offensive on Nov. 3 by the Free Syrian Army to take control of an air defense base in the north.
Groups seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad convened yesterday in Doha, with the aim of unifying and strengthening the opposition. On the agenda was a U.S.-backed initiative that seeks to reshape the opposition to more prominently include representation from those inside Syria.
Opposition leader Riad Seif said yesterday that Syria’s resistance groups should unite, and that legitimacy will come from being recognized by Syrians and by the international community. Seif is a founder of the “Damascus Declaration,” a call by intellectuals for a peaceful democratic transition.
Government forces loyal to Assad killed 212 people across the country yesterday, including 94 in or around Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement. More than 35,000 people have died in the 19-month- long conflict to remove Assad from power, according to the Syrian Observatory.
Also yesterday, United Nations and Arab League special mediator to the Syrian conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in Cairo with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the head of the Arab League, Nabil El-Arabi, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported. The meeting, according to MENA, was to discuss the results of Brahimi’s efforts to solve the crisis and to bridge the gap between the Arab countries and Russia.
Arab League chief El-Arabi said in a press conference with Lavrov and Brahimi in Cairo that they had discussed the Syrian crisis but had reached no agreement.
Lavrov said there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that Russia’s priority is to stop the loss of innocent lives by forcing a ceasefire and negotiations.
Brahimi said blood spilled every day wouldn’t lead to victory for anyone and urged a political solution. Otherwise, Syria’s crisis may spill over to neighboring countries and might involve others, he said.