The Secretary General of the United Nations says he believes al-Qaeda is responsible for two massive bombs that killed 55 people in Damascus last week. Ban Ki-moon offered no evidence for the claim, but says that given the size and method of the attacks that they "must be behind it." The attack on May 10 was the deadliest bombing to take place in Syria since the uprising began last year. Bashar al-Assad's regime has long blamed "foreign terrorists" for stirring up a fake revolution, but the comments of the Secretary General would seem to validate their public line. The United States and Russia have also suspected that terrorists may be entering the country in an attempt to hijack the revolution and take advantage of the chaos, rather than support the protesters. Both sides blamed the other last week's bombings, but there is a growing possibility that a third party is now getting involved.
However, the United Nations itself is losing credibility in the country and taking heat for its inability to halt any of the violence, despite declaring a cease-fire and sending hundreds of observers to monitor the situation. Student protesters marched in the city of Aleppo earlier this week and were attacked by pro-government forces in full view of the observers. A similar incident happened when Syrian troops fired on a funeral procession and even the U.N. vehicles have been attacked. This video captured a small bomb going off as protesters gathered around an U.N. convoy
The U.N. claims that its presence has dampened the killing but some activists say they have merely caused the regime to change tactics, electing for more targeted killings and arrest (which often lead to torture and execution) rather than random shelling by tanks. The U.N. now says that more than 10,000 Syrians have died in the year-long conflict.