LONDON - In the morning of Friday 23rd December 2011 the Syrian capital Damascus witnessed 2 explosions. The blasts appeared to be coordinated as they happened within a few moments of each other at 10:15 AM local time in the district of Kafr Souse. The 2 targets were the General Intelligence Agency HQ and the Military Intelligence Branch.
Approximately 40 minutes later Syrian state run TV channels broadcasted news of the explosion and accused the international terrorist organization Al Qaida for the attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights condemns this act of terrorism regardless of the perpetrator and their ideology.
Reports from our members seem to give a very disturbing picture. The Observatory has and continues to receive statements from both officials and local activists on the findings.
Syrian officials have declared that the number of those killed stands at over 40 and the number of those wounded is around 100. The observatory has not received detailed information from the Syrian officials on either the exact numbers or the personal information of the victims other than one report that one of the men killed by the explosion was a retired Brigadier General.
The Observatory is keen to understand the facts however it is extremely concerned by the official explanations given by officials of the Syrian regime for the following reasons:
1) Friday is a non working day in Syria. Such an attack on a government building would be designed to kill civilians as most government personnel would be not be at work.
2) There is an element of bizarre coincidence as this is an unprecedented event and for it to coincide with the arrival of the Arab League delegation of observers is at the very least interesting.
3) Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi has stated that Lebanese authorities warned the Syrian regime that Al Qaeda forces had infiltrated Syria via Lebanon 2 days ago. It is not convincing to think that given such degree of intelligence and the fact that there are numerous intelligence organizations in Syria for such an infiltration to go on freely and organise and execute such an attack within 48 hours.
4) There is an element of precedence from previous cases were external elements organised assassination attacks on key Palestinian figures. The regime treated these events as serious matters of national security and fire brigade vehicles were sent to wash away the scene and prevent journalists from visiting or going into any detail. In this case it is mysterious as to why the regime has acted differently and by getting the deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad to take the journalists and observers on a “tour” of the scene.
5) The Observatory would expect the regime to act in line with most advanced of nations where security and intelligence is gathered via sophisticated methods in order to arrive at a reliable set of evidence and identify the culprit. It is worrying to see that a conclusion on the identifying the culprit seems to have already been reached. This is even more surprising by the fact that Syria does not have a documented history of Al Qaeda presence.
6) The Observatory is aware of the location of the intelligence force building and the fact that there is a big concrete fence surrounding at a substantial distance from the building itself. It is unclear as to how the building could have caught fire when the blast happened outside the fence. It is also unclear as to how the car could reach the gates in the first place as the perimeter of the building and the road leading to it is under constant guard by military and intelligence personnel.
Finally; The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights condemns this act of terrorism regardless of the perpetrator and their ideology and calls upon its members and the international community to undertake a full investigation to identify the culprit behind this act and bring them forward to face justice in a court of law.