Rebels bomb Syria army HQ in new blow to heart of Assad regime

Twin bombing comes just days after Free Syrian Army moved command centre from Turkey to Syria

LAST UPDATED AT 14:50 ON Wed 26 Sep 2012

REBELS have exploded two huge bombs at the headquarters of the army in Damascus just days after they moved their command centre from Turkey to Syria to step up their campaign against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Times reports that the bombs exploded either outside or just inside the army's general staff compound in Umayyad Square, about a mile from where Assad lives.

Reuters reports that the first explosion was a suicide car bombing and the second was a car packed with explosives. These were set off at the perimeter of the army compound before rebel fighters went in, firing at army troops and torching the building.

The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombings and said they had killed dozens of people. State television said there had been no casualties when the bombs exploded around 7am, but some soldiers had been wounded when "terrorist attackers" opened fire in the army compound and surrounding streets.

However, Iran's government mouthpiece, Press TV, said its own journalist, Maya Naser, had been killed by "foreign-backed insurgents" while broadcasting.

Syrian information minister Omran Zoubim said: "Everything is normal. There was a terrorist attack, perhaps near a significant location, this is true, but they failed as usual to achieve their goals."

Today's attack was the second time this summer that the FSA has struck at the heart of the Syrian regime. In July, they killed a number of Assad's top defence aides, including his brother-in-law, when they bombed the National Security HQ in Damascus.

The BBC's Rafid Jabboori, in Damascus, said the target and timing of the attack was very significant. He explained that the staff command compound represents the heart of the Syrian army and the attack comes days after the Free Syrian Army announced it had moved its command from Turkey to Syria to take the fight to the regime. · 

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