[QODLink]
Middle East

Deraa suicide blasts 'kill Syrian forces'

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports at least 20 deaths of government troops in southern city.
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2012 14:15

At least 20 Syrian soldiers have died in twin suicide bombings in the nation's south.

Saturday's early morning blasts in Deraa targeted an encampment for forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"I heard two very loud explosions and a third smaller one followed by bursts of gunfire," said Mohammad Abu Houran, an activist in Deraa.

He said the first two were likely car bombs and the third a mortar shell or rocket propelled grenade.

Live Box 2012108933861442

The Britain-based observatory said the explosions were followed by clashes between forces loyal to Damascus and opposition fighters wanting to topple al-Assad.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, chief of the monitor group, said the 20 deaths had yet to be independently verified.

State-run news agency SANA said the explosions caused multiple casualties and heavy material damage, but did not provide further details.

Abu Houran said black smoke could be seen over the high-security area, which was sealed off. Heavy shooting could be heard from the area for about 10 minutes after the explosions, he added.

Security zone

The targeted area is considered a security zone that houses a branch of the country's Military Intelligence as well as an officer's club where dozens of al-Assad forces are based.

Around 30 tanks that government forces use to shell Deraa and surrounding areas are also stationed in a nearby stadium, activists said.

Deraa was the birthplace of the uprising against Assad, which erupted in March 2011.

The Deraa bombings come a day after as many as 11,000 people were said to have fled Syria over just 24 hours, to escape fierce fighting between opposition fighters and government forces - the latest surge of refugees fleeing the civil war.

The flood of Syrians into neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon was "the highest that we have had in quite some time," said Panos Moumtzis, regional co-ordinator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

About 2,000 to 3,000 people are fleeing Syria daily, and the recent surge brings the number registered with the UNHCR to more than 408,000, Moumtzis said.

The largest flow into Turkey came from the fighting at Ras al-Ayn in the predominantly Kurdish oil-producing northeastern province of al-Hasaka, where the opposition was fighting government forces.

396

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Error processing SSI file
Featured
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
The group's takeover of farms in Qaraqosh, 30km from Mosul, has caused fear among residents, and a jump in food prices.
Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
join our mailing list