CNN- Syrian special forces foiled a suicide car bombing in Aleppo, the nation’s most populous city, state TV said Friday.
The action comes a day after suicide attackers killed dozens in the capital of Damascus, a strike that heightened tensions in a country caught in the grip of a popular uprising.
On Friday, special forces repelled an attempted suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden car in the Al Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo. The forces killed the bomber before he detonated his vehicle, carrying 1,200 kilograms, or 2,645 pounds of explosives.
Damascus and Aleppo have been the scene of a flurry of attacks in recent weeks and months. Aleppo, a commercial center and long a bastion of support for President Bashar al-Assad, had been largely spared in Syria’s 14 months of bloody uprising. But recent protests and violence there could signal a significant shift.
Syria’s foreign ministry underscored the urban violence in identical letters to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. Security Council President Agshin Mehdiyev, who is the Azerbaijani ambassador to the United Nations.
State-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported the letters said that Damascus, Aleppo and other Syrian cities “witnessed several terrorist bombings over the last weeks” that left dozens of innocent people dead.
The letters said the country is facing “terrorist” assaults spearheaded by groups that get arms and money from entities encouraging the actions.
The letters said the “armed terrorist groups” are violating international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan and attacked a convoy from the U.N. observer team Wednesday in Daraa province. There were no injuries in that bombing attack. Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the observer team, was in the convoy.
“Syria will move forward to combat terrorism and defend its people and sovereignty and preserve security and stability in it,” the letters said.
Syria blames “terrorists” for the attacks, the term it uses to describe the opposition and rationalize security forces’ crackdown. Some analysts said the attacks raise concerns about the presence of jihadist elements in Syria, noting the Damascus strikes resemble suicide car bombings during the sectarian violence prevalent in Iraq in the past decade.
But opposition groups have said the regime is responsible for the violence that erupted after the regime began a crackdown on peaceful protests in March 2011. That fierce clampdown spurred a grass-roots uprising against the regime.
The United Nations estimates that at least 9,000 people have died in the conflict, while opposition groups put the death toll at more than 11,000. Fresh violence hit some areas Friday, killing at least 13 people, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition group.
The opposition Syrian National Council said al-Assad’s regime staged Thursday’s deadly suicide bombings in Damascus “to spur chaos, disrupt the work of the international observers and divert attention away from other crimes being committed by its forces elsewhere.”
“In orchestrating such acts,” the council said Friday, “the regime seeks to prove its claims of the existence of ‘armed terrorist gangs’ in the country that are hindering its so-called ‘efforts of political reform.’ ”
More than 55 people were killed and 370 were injured in two car bombings near a military intelligence center in the Qazzaz neighborhood of Damascus, the nation’s capital. It was the deadliest attack since the grass-roots uprising against the regime began.
But the council questioned how the bombers could have made it past security to conduct the bombings.
“The security branch is heavily guarded and surrounded with cement barriers at a distance from the exterior fence. It would be reckless to carry out such an attack, because it would in no way impact the security building.
“One of the cars was loaded with a large amount of explosive materials. How is it possible that these explosives made it past hundreds of security checkpoints surrounding the entrance to the capital?”
While people are focused on the attacks and their aftermath, “the regime carried out arbitrary arrests across the country, most notable in the Damascus suburb of Damir,” the council said.
The latest bombings didn’t deter Syrians from taking to the streets in protest across the country Friday, the day opposition groups have been staging nationwide protests.
But the attacks cast doubt on the effectiveness of the U.N.-Arab League initiative to impose a truce and a six-point peace plan, forged by Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general.
Since the cease-fire went into effect last month, some days have been calmer, but violence has continued. The LCC reports more than 1,000 deaths since April 12. An unarmed U.N. observer mission has been monitoring the adherence to the cease-fire and peace plan.
Annan is weighing an invitation to meet with al-Assad in Syria, his spokesman said as the deadly blasts in Damascus drew widespread condemnation. Syria’s foreign minister invited him days ago, and the invitation is not tied to Thursday’s attacks, a U.N. source said.
Russia, meanwhile, condemned Thursday’s suicide bombings and accused outside nations of instigating violence to heighten the uprising that has left thousands dead.
“Some countries are inciting outside forces to interfere into the Syrian situation, which is unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Chinese state media.
Lavrov, in Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterpart, did not specify the countries.
“Such acts aim to push the country to a new bloody and extremely dangerous wave of violence,” he said.
During a news conference after Thursday’s bombings, both Russian and Chinese officials emphasized their rejection of outside military intervention in Syria and the need for the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue.
“To appropriately address the Syrian issue, all sides concerned should respect Syria’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.
The Syrian people should decide their own fate, Yang said, according to Xinhua news agency.
Russia and China have vetoed tough Security Council measures toward the Syrian regime but have agreed to Annan’s mission.
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