Did Syria Destroy Its Own Intelligence Agency?

Following two explosions that ripped the face off a Syrian intelligence building comes a brazen allegation: That Syrian security forces carried out the attacks themselves. 

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Following two explosions that ripped the face off a Syrian intelligence building comes a brazen allegation: That Syrian security forces carried out the attacks themselves.

The explosion in Damascus Thursday killed up to 55 people and, according to the Syrian Interior Ministry, injured 372 others. While the Syrian government blamed the attacks on "foreign-backed" opposition forces, Syria's two opposition movements, the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Committee, denied carrying out the attacks, claiming that Syrian security forces were responsible. The question for President Bashar al-Assad's regime is whether the opposition forces are technically capable of carrying out such an attack. The question for the opposition forces is whether the Syrian regime is actually this desperate to discredit the opposition.

As for the latter question, the regime would have to be incredibly hopeless to resort to such tactics. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the blasts "destroyed the nation's intelligence agency," reports CNNThe Associared Press' Bassam Mroue describes the building as being "heavily" damaged, "leaving blood and human remains in the streets." Would the regime be willing to lose its intelligence resources for a PR stunt? Additionally, the Syrian Interior Ministry says several members of the Syrian security force were killed in the blast. (The SANA state news site is now showing incredibly graphic pictures of dismembered bodies in the street).  They say the attack went like this: "Two booby-trapped cars loaded with more than 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) of explosives and driven by suicidal terrorists carried out the terrorist blasts," the ministry said. But opposition forces say they don't have the firepower to carry out such an attack.

"There are no other parties in Syria who are technically capable of making such a huge explosion, except for the regime itself," Brig. Gen. Moustafa el-Sheikh, the head of the military council of the Free Syrian Army said in a statement. "Not even al Qaeda can do that." Ausama Monajed, the adviser to the president of the council, reinforced the claim. "This is a government-planned attack, and we are used to provocations using these tactics," he said. "We are in touch with the armed resistance." While it's true that Syria's opposition forces are technologically outmatched (by a longshot) whether they have the sophistication to carry out Thursday's attack largely depends on what kind of assistance they have been given from foreign states.

Just yesterday, the United Nations said weapons were being smuggled into Syria from Lebanon, a statement that helped support the Assad regime's claim that the rebels were being armed by outsiders. "Based on information that we have there are reasons to believe that there is a flow of arms both ways - from Lebanon into Syria and from Syria into Lebanon," Terje Roed-Larsen, a UN special envoy told the UN Security Council. According to Reuters' Michelle Nichols, "Lebanese authorities seized 60,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in two cars on an Italian container ship docked at the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli." Nichols continued, "Tripoli, a mainly Sunni Muslim city, has seen regular protests in support of the uprising against Assad."

Whoever carried out the attacks, one thing is clear: The chances for a settlement of the issue remains far out of reach. As The Telegraph's Middle East Correspondent Richard Spencer writes: "That this crisis will linger on, perhaps indefinitely, ever more painfully, now seems sure."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.