Dozens die in suicide assault on Syrian base

Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front claims credit

Twin blasts at a military base near Damascus by suicide bombers, one driving an bomb-laden ambulance, killed dozens of people while the fate of prisoners held there is unknown, a watchdog said on Tuesday.

The attack, the latest in a spate of assaults on Syrian military and government installations, was claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which said it was to avenge Muslims “oppressed or killed” by the regime. News of the blasts cae as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to declare a unilateral truce in the almost 19-month conflict which activists say has killed more than 32,000 people.

“Dozens of people were killed in two suicide attacks against the air force intelligence branch in Harasta” late last night, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, referring to a town just northeast of the capital.
“The fate of hundreds of prisoners being held in the basements of the (building) is still unknown.

“The regime has not said a word about what happened last night,” added Abdel Rahman.

“I hold the regime responsible for the fate of the prisoners. They shouldn’t be holding all of these people in the first place.”

The Observatory said in an earlier statement that Syrian regime artillery hammered Harasta as well as other rebel belts across the country from dawn today. The Al-Nusra Front, which was unknown before the start of the revolt against Assad’s regime but which now regularly issues statements claiming suicide attacks in Syria, said it was behind the Harasta attack.

“In revenge for those who have oppressed or killed Muslims, the decision was taken to strike the Air Force intelligence branch in Harasta,” Al-Nusra said in a statement posted on jihadist online forums.

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