DAMASCUS – Two explosions at the Damascus general headquarters of Syria’s army engulfed at least two floors of the building in flames on Wednesday, the latest in a series of major bombings in the capital, Al Jazeera reports. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said two improvised explosive devices, one of which may have been placed inside the headquarters building itself, exploded minutes before 7am, shattering the windows of nearby buildings in the heavily guarded Umayyad Square district. Rebel spokesmen for the Free Syrian Army released a statement claiming responsibility and saying that dozens had been killed, but Zoubi said the bombings caused “only material damage”. According to Russia Today, Iran’s Press TV claimed its Damascus correspondent was killed Wednesday by a rebel sniper while reporting on bombings in the Syrian capital.
Call for Arab intervention
The attacks came the morning after Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for the first time called for unilateral Arab intervention in Syria. Sheikh Hamad, speaking at the annual UN General Assembly in New York City, said Arab states must act out of “national, humanitarian, political and military duties” in the face of the UN Security Council’s failure “to reach an effective position”. “In view of this, I think that it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” he said. Western powers are opposed to direct intervention, and the Security Council, which includes Syrian allies China and Russia, has been unable to pass even a resolution calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. “We had a similar precedent when Arab forces intervened in Lebanon in the mid-’70s … to stop internal fighting there in a step that proved to be effective and useful,” Sheikh Hamad said. He urged countries to provide “all sorts of support” to Syrians until they gain legitimate rights. US President Barack Obama, also speaking at the General Assembly on Tuesday, again called for the Assad’s removal but provided no clear plan.