The uprising in Syria began nine months ago but this last week has been a particularly bloody one for Syrians, even by recent standards.
“We have two eye witnesses who are still working in the regime that are ready to name the officers who planned the operation. They will speak in court….. as soon as we can grant them and their families full protection.”
– Omar Khani, a Syrian activist
On Friday, Damascus became the target of suicide car bombings for the first time as two huge explosions ripped through government intelligence buildings, killing at least 44 people.
The key question is: Who is to blame?
Activists are pointing the finger at government security forces while the government says it could be al-Qaeda. And all this happened as the first Arab League observers arrived in the country.
Mark Toner, the US state department spokesman, condemned the attacks, saying it was crucial they did not impede.
“The critical work of the Arab League monitoring mission [is] to document and deter human rights abuses with the goal of protecting civilians. We hope that this mission will proceed unfettered in an atmosphere of non-violence,” he said.
So just what is the significance of this escalation in tensions? And is the Syrian revolution getting militarised?
Inside Syria, with presenter Shiulie Gosh, discusses with guests: Marwan Kabalan, professor of political science at Damascus University; Joseph Kechichian, Middle East analyst and author; and Louay Safi from the opposition Syrian National Council.
“We attacked an intelligence base in Harasta close to Damascus a few weeks ago. We did that to free prisoners inside. Our attacks have only been to defend the protesters.”
Colonel Riad Assad, Head of the Free Syrian Army