Sunday 19 November 2017

UN's Syria peace plan in crisis after new terror wave

Bassem Mroue in Damascus

THE UN-brokered peace plan for Syria appeared to be in tatters last night as an opposition leader said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime was trying to destroy any prospect of unity.

The accusations came during a security crackdown following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.

The bombings fuelled fears of a rising Islamic militant element among those seeking to oust Mr Assad and dealt a further blow to international efforts to end the bloodshed. Mr Assad's government blamed the blasts on armed terrorists it says are driving the uprising.

Yesterday, a pro-government TV station said security forces prevented another massive bombing in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, shooting dead a suicide attacker shortly before he detonated a mini bus filled with 1,500 kilogrammes of explosives.

During a news conference in Tokyo, Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said there would be no peaceful solution to the violence in Syria without "a threat of force against those who don't implement the plan".

"Assad feels he can run away from implementing all of his obligations without any consequences," Mr Ghalioun said.

In Damascus, workers were paving over two massive craters caused by the bombs which struck a Syrian military compound on Thursday.

The attack also wounded more than 370 people.

Security forces armed with Kalashnikov rifles were guarding the compound yesterday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a shadowy militant group calling itself the Al-Nusra Front has claimed past attacks through statements on militant websites.

Little is known about the group, though western intelligence officials say it could be a front for al-Qa'ida's Iraq branch.

The blast was the largest and most deadly yet in a series of bombings targeting state security buildings since last December.

Most of these have been in Aleppo and Damascus, which have generally stood by Mr Assad since the uprising broke out in March 2011.

Mr Ghalioun suggested the regime was somehow behind the blasts as a way to taint the uprising.

"The relationship between the Syrian regime and al-Qa'ida is very strong," he said.

Irish Independent

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