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Inside Syria
Syria's blame game
With the Syrian government and the opposition blaming each other for the escalated violence, who is responsible?
Last Modified: 14 May 2012 04:49

It has been one month since the United Nations-backed ceasefire came into effect but the violence in Syria continues.

"Regardless of who is responsible for this particular attack, the Syrian people are paying the price of the Syrian regime's response to the uprising .... It has had a targeted campaign of trying to destroy the mostly non-violent protests of last year and to drag the uprising into an armed response."

- Omar Dahi, a professor at Hampshire College

On Thursday, two explosions rocked the city of Damascus killing 55 people and injuring at least 400. Hours later, another bomb went off in Syria's second city of Aleppo, killing 12 people. The government says another large attack in that city was foiled.

With the Syrian government and the opposition blaming each other for the escalated violence, who is responsible?

Speaking in Geneva on Tuesday, the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged that violence is continuing on both sides, but reiterated his belief that the UN peace plan is the only chance to stabilise Syria:

"I also told members of the council that I believe that the UN supervision mission is possibly the only remaining chance to stabilise the country and I am sure that I am not telling you any secret when I tell you that there is a profound concern that the country could otherwise descend into full civil war and the implications of that are quite frightening, we cannot allow that to happen."

Has what started as a peaceful protest more than a year ago now been hijacked by external forces?

That is the allegation being made by Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari. He says there has been an increase in the scale and frequency of terrorist activities and operations in Syria.

"It is definitely [a mix of people]. Al-Qaeda is a franchise and is a start-up in different places across the region. So the al-Nusra Front, could be exactly that - a coming together of interests of people with potential battle and explosives training from Iraq or Lebanon .... These groups can be very home-made and don't require deep leadership structures or organisational networks."

- James Denselow, a Middle East analyst

He also says the terrorist operations committed in Syria bear the fingerprints of al-Qaeda. But those accusations have been repeatedly disputed by the opposition.

The Syrian National Council leader, Burhan Ghalioun, pins the blame for the attacks firmly on the Syrian government:

"The countries that voted for Annan's plan, they should realise that they have to take initiative and they should apply real pressure on the Syrian regime with very strong will, so the regime should and will stop its operations and attacks.

Then this initiative should also confirm that the international committee should send an international investigation committee which is independent so it will show who is really behind these explosions."

Thursday's bombings are by no means the first. In December last year two suicide bombs went off outside security buildings in Damascus killing 44 people. The opposition was quick to lay the blame on Bashar al-Assad's government but US officials blamed al-Qaeda.

A month later another suicide attack hit Damascus killing 26. The Syrian government promised to respond with what it called an iron fist. In April a further nine people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the al-Midan neighbourhood of Damascus.

Inside Syria with presenter James Bays, speaks to guests: Omar Dahi, a professor at Hampshire College in Amherst is a Syrian native who traveled to the country last year at the peak of the uprising; Mustafa al-Ani, the director of security and defense department at the Gulf Research Centre and an advisor to the Middle East department at London's RUSI; James Denselow, a Middle East analyst at King's College London and founder of the New Diplomacy Platform, a research institution.

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FACTS ABOUT THE VIOLENCE IN SYRIA:

  • Thursday’s attack killed 55 and innjured nearly 400 in Damascus
  • The attacks were the deadliest since the uprising began in March 2011
  • The two attacks happened as people went to work during rush hour
  • Syrian state media blamed 'foreign backed terrorists' for the attacks
  • The opposition accused the government of carrying out the bombings
  • Syria’s opposition has repeatedly accused the government of organising bombings
  • Kofi Annan has urged Syria to implement his six-point peace plan
  • Plan called for a ceasefire which was supposed to begin on April 12
  • Only 70 of a planned 300 UN monitors are deployed in Syria
  • In February al-Qaeda leader called on Muslims to join Syrian uprising
  • Some have accused al-Qaeda of being behind Thursday’s deadly bombings
  • Syria’s uprising began with mostly peaceful protests in March 2011
Source:
Al Jazeera
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