Car Bombs in Syria – Attacks Thwarted By Syrian Security Police Forces at United States Embassy in Damascus

Car Bombs in Syria – Attacks Thwarted By Syrian Security Police Forces at United States Embassy in Damascus

Bashar al-Assad—an
W-Photo

The defense by Syrian security forces in a failed attempt by suspected al-Qaida-linked militants to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Tuesday, won praise from the White House. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said “I do think that the Syrians reacted to this attack in a way that helped to secure our people, and we very much appreciate that." Also, White House spokesman Tony Snow thanked Syrian officials and called for Damascus to "become an ally and make the choice of fighting against terrorists."

No Americans were hurt in the attack, but at least 10 civilians and a Chinese diplomat were wounded, according to Associate Press reporter Sam F. Ghattas. Ghattas also said that anti-American sentiment has been rising across the Middle East since Israel's 34-day blitz of Hezbollah in Lebanon that ended nearly a month ago, on top of turmoil in Iraq that many in the Middle East blame on the United States.

The Syrians have complained about U.S. policies in the past, and today they continued the Criticism. "It is regrettable that U.S. policies in the Middle East have fueled extremism, terrorism and anti-U.S. sentiment," the Syrian Embassy in Washington said in a statement. "The U.S. should … start looking at the root causes of terrorism and broker a comprehensive peace in the Middle East." Comment on this Article at our Forum

“The terrorist attack failed. It did not achieve the objectives of the criminals responsible,” Syrian Interior Minister Gen Bassam Abdel Majid said during a visit to the scene of the attack. According to the newspaper “Syria Today”, four men shouting Islamic slogans were involved in the attack.

Syrian State media said two Syrian guards were among 13 people wounded in the attack when a one car bomb failed to detonate. The attacker’s arsenal included rocket-propelled grenades but it was not known if they had fired them during the mid-morning fight.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the attackers approached the embassy in two vehicles, one at the front and the other at the rear of the building. Casey said the vehicle in front of the embassy exploded, but Syrian security forces were able to defuse the second car bomb in the rear. Reporting for “Syria Today”, Khaled Yacoub Oweis reports that this version of events could not be immediately confirmed by the Syrian government.

The United States lists Syria as a sponsor of terrorism accusing the country of supporting the Lebanese-based Hizbollah movement and of failing to cooperate in efforts to stop the fighting in neighboring Iraq. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said back in July: “Syria has not been directly involved in terrorist operations since 1986.”

The Syrian government has not only had to contend with attacks from Israel, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has had problems with terrorists in his own country. Israel bombed Syria back in October of 2003. George Semaan and Ghassan Sharbal of “WorldPress” called the attack in 2003 by Israel an attempt to terrorize Syria. They added that this was an effort to drag Syria into the wars being fought in the region.

The CFR report states “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—an ophthalmologist who came to power after the death in June 2000 of his long-ruling father, Hafiz al-Assad—condemned the September 11 attacks. Syria has also reportedly shared some intelligence with the United States about Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, even as Assad’s regime continues to sponsor terrorist groups. In April 2002, President Bush said that the time had come “for Syria to decide which side of the war against terror it is on.””

This cooperation with the United States has brought accusations of coercion from militant groups. The CFR says the secular, Arab nationalist Syrian government is hostile to bin Laden’s Islamist network, which Syria views as a terrorist organization; Damascus differentiates between the Sunni Muslim fundamentalists of al-Qaeda and groups it sees as national liberation movements, such as Hezbollah and Palestinian groups.

There is infighting in Syria between Shiite and Sunni. The CFR continues: Experts say, Syria, which is ruled mostly by Alawites, an often marginalized Shiite sect, is more broadly concerned that Islamists could rally the country’s Sunni majority against the regime. So in the past, the dictatorial Baath Party has dealt harshly with domestic Islamists. In 1982, Assad quashed an uprising organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group, in the central Syrian city of Hama, bulldozing neighborhoods and killing an estimated 10,000 people. The brutal response to the Hama uprising deterred further Islamist activism in Syria, experts say.

Oweis quotes a senior State Department spokesperson as saying relations between the two countries were unlikely to change much in the near future. Comment on this Article at our Forum

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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