Outsiders concerned al-Qaeda may have entered the fray in Syria

Here and Now

The United Nations Security Council called on all parties in Syria to ”immediately and comprehensively” comply with the terms of its peace plan. 

Two suicide car bombings earlier this week killed at least 55 people in the capital, Damascus. Other blasts were reported Friday, and rebels say government forces continue to shell disputed and rebellious communities. Syrian government officials say they foiled another major suicide bombing attempt in Aleppo.

Thursday’s deadly blasts went off near a military intelligence complex. Both sides have blamed each other for the attack, which the Security Council called a terrorist attack. 

BBC reporter Lyse Doucet, in Syria, said there are always at least two narratives in Syria.

“We have spoken to angry people, who blame Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, which are all countries that have come out in support of the Syrian opposition,” Doucet said. “Grieving families cursed the opposition. The opposition alleges as always that this was the cynical work of the government itself to try to discredit the opposition.”

Doucet described the site of Thursday’s blast as an “absolute wasteland.” The magnitude and sophistication of the blast, according to Doucet, has some convinced that outside forces, like al-Qaeda, have gotten involved with the ongoing dispute that has dominated Syria for more than a year.

“Leon Panetta has spoken about an al-Qaeda presence and so, yet again, there seems to be this growing perception that the opposition, which includes so many diverse groups, now includes elements that are bent on the worst kinds of violence,” Doucet said.

Up until six months ago, Damascus had been described as a bubble amidst the violence not only in Syria, but in many places around the Middle East. In recent months, though, that has changed.

“We saw elements of the Free Syrian Army taking up positions in the suburbs. I can say that visiting some of the areas of Damascus this time, they are much more restive. People seem much bolder, much more willing to take to the streets to denounce President Assad,” Doucet said.

She said people are mostly staying indoors now, not sure what will be the next dangers to emerge in this conflict that’s now stretched into its 14th month.

Doucet said there’s another element as well, to the Syrian drama, which are the peaceful protesters who began the revolution but now feel completely eclipsed by their fellow revolutionaries who would prefer a more violent means of forcing change.

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