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Who is responsible for the deadly Damascus blasts?

Smoke rises from the wreckage of mangled vehicles at the site of an explosion in Damascus on May 10, 2012.


More than 50 people are dead and some 370 wounded in Damascus after a pair of massive bombs exploded during the morning rush hour near a military intelligence building in the Syrian capital.

Videos and Syrian state TV show the collapsed front of the building and some 20 burned out vehicles, part of the enormous devastation that was wrought.

Then comes the question: Who was responsible?

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Fingers point first to the opposition movement whose year-long uprising has grown increasingly from peaceful protest to violent insurrection. This is the view of the scores of demonstrators who quickly come to the site of Thursday's blasts eager to show that they, the people, reject the opposition's efforts to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. They point fingers at the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Islamic monarchies that have championed the opposition against the Assad regime and may well be arming it.

Such a conclusion seems too convenient, too obvious, too counter to the nature of the opposition, so many people point instead to the government itself, said to be carrying out these attacks so as to tar the opposition. This tactic is especially effective, the opposition argues, when done with UN personnel and a sprinkling of international media monitoring the country as they are now.

No way would the government kill so many of its own people. It must have been the opposition who want both to strike fear in the population and to lay blame on the government.

But perhaps it was the government who thought people would reason this way, so that the opposition would get double the blame... and on and on it goes.

In the past, groups that claim to be inspired by al-Qaeda have said they carried out some of the bombing attacks that began in December. It is noteworthy that bombings such as these do closely resemble the scale and technique of bombings carried out in Baghdad in the campaign by anti-Shia movements such as al-Qaeda of Mesopotamia. Many from that group and related movements are believed to have made their way to the fighting in Syria, in aid of the out-gunned opposition.

At least one bombing was claimed by a little-known organization called Jabhat al-Nusra (Protection Front for the Syrian People) suggesting that new actors may be trying to produce a state of anarchy, presumably for the benefit of whoever will emerge most powerful.

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About the Author
Global Affairs reporter

As Global Affairs Writer, Patrick Martin’s primary focus is on the turbulent Middle East, to which he travels regularly. He has twice been posted to the region – from 1991-95 and from 2008-12. More

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