Islamist rebels blow up key Syrian intelligence base
A MILITANT Islamist group has claimed responsibility for an enormous double explosion at an intelligence base in Damascus.
The attack, the latest in a series of bomb blasts at strategic locations in the Syrian capital, sent out a fireball visible across the city on Monday night. Unusually for this type of rebel activity, it was not reported in state media.
The base is said to have been the lead agency in the arrest and torture of opposition figures, and there were reports that hundreds of inmates were held there at the time of the blast.
The attack was claimed by Jabhat al-Nusra, a group formed earlier this year which posts regular bulletins to jihadist websites but has denied links to al-Qa'ida. It said two suicide bombers drove a car and an ambulance packed with explosives up to the base.
The number of deaths was not clear, but activists said it was in the "dozens". The war in Syria is now being waged on several fronts. The regime is in the middle of an intense offensive in Homs, where rebels control two districts in the city centre. It is also continuing operations in the Damascus suburbs, where the rebels have a foothold.
Rebels are still making progress in districts near the Turkish border, such as Idlib province, where they claim to have taken the town of Maarat al-Numan.
Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, said events in Syria were "the worst case scenario".
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of Nato, said the alliance was ready to defend Turkey, which has been exchanging sporadic artillery fire with Syria since a mortar round landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, killing five civilians. (© Daily Telegraph, London)