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Date published: 9/27/2012
BEIRUT--Syrian rebels struck deep in the fortress-like inner sanctum of President Bashar Assad's rule Wednesday in Damascus, detonating two car bombs that engulfed the army headquarters in flames.
The suicide bombings and subsequent gun battles in the Syrian capital killed at least five people, including a reporter for Iranian TV. The carefully orchestrated attacks highlighted the regime's growing vulnerability, even as the 18-month battle to bring down Assad is locked in a stalemate.
International diplomacy has failed to stop the bloodshed.
Making his debut on the global stage at the United Nations, Egypt's new President Mohammed Morsi said he will not rest until Syria's civil war is brought to an end. He called it the "tragedy of the age" and one that "we all must end."
Morsi has launched an "Islamic Quartet" of regional powers to seek an end to the violence, but he has not offered a specific plan of action.
The explosions targeting the Syrian military compound went off about 10 minutes apart, around 7 a.m., with the first blast possibly meant to create a diversion to enable the second attacker to get into the compound.
Security camera footage aired by Syrian state TV showed a white van driving on a busy thoroughfare outside the military compound, then veering to the right and exploding. The footage showed a second blast going off inside the complex, with flames rising up behind trees.
After the second explosion, rebel fighters and regime forces exchanged fire for more than three hours, including inside the military compound, said Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group. The fighting spilled over into nearby Omayyad Square, with regime troops--some wildly firing in the air--chasing after rebel gunmen, witnesses said.
Syrian state TV reported that four army guards were killed and 14 people were wounded, including civilians and military personnel.