Just one day after Russia and the Arab League proposed to facilitate talks between President Bashar al Assad's government and Syrian opposition forces, a massive car bomb has detonated in the heart of Damascus—right where the Russian embassy is located.
"The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the dead were civilians, but members of the Syrian security services were also killed in Thursday's attack," reports the AP, which notes that the explosion is near the ruling Baath party headquarters and the Russian Embassy. That's curious because it was just yesterday that Russia and the Arab League had proposed to broker talks between Assad's regime and opposition forces. That proposal wasn't well-received from opposition forces.
"We cannot agree to that," said Abdelbaset Sieda, a senior member of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said in the AP's report on Wednesday. "Assad and his group must go first. After that we can discuss with others in the regime who didn't share in the killing of our people." Russia and to a lesser extent China have been seen as Assad's main allies on the international front.
As CBS News notes, Damascus, for the most part, avoided the large scale violence that's common to other Syrian cities. So far, there are conflicting reports of who's bomb went off—state media is reporting that it's the work of terrorists and there are conflicting reports on Twitter with the Free Syrian Army allegedly claiming and allegedly denying responsibility. The scenes, so far look like something you'd only see in an action movie:
And here's a wider shot:
Though the AP reports that the bombing struck near the embassy and ruling party headquarters, the BBC is reporting that Syrian state media claims that the bomb went off near a school and clinic and that schoolchildren were among the fatalities. And Hala Jaber, a journalist with the Sunday Times is reporting that there was actually a second bomber, who was actually stopped before another giant truck bomb could be detonated.
#Damascus Correction: Apparently a second suicide bomber arrested and his 2nd car laden with 300kilos of explosives stopped.— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) February 21, 2013