Syrian war's 'bloodiest day' hangs over UN
AFP Friday, September 28, 2012, 12:02 am TWN
DAMASCUS--More than 305 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, making it the bloodiest day of the 18-month revolt, a human rights group said, after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged action from the "paralyzed" U.N. Security Council.
A total of 14 people were killed when twin bombs rocked the headquarters of the armed forces general staff in the heart of Damascus in one of the most spectacular attacks of the uprising, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An Islamist rebel group said its men carried out the attack, and five of its fighters, including a suicide bomber, died during the assault. Its claim was impossible to verify.
The Syrian Observatory said that 199 of Wednesday's dead were civilians.
"This is the highest toll in a single day since March 2011. And this is only counting those whose names have been documented. If we count the unidentified bodies, the figure will be much higher," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by telephone.
The previous highest death toll of the uprising was on July 19, when 302 people were killed, according to the Britain-based watchdog.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in violence since the outbreak of the revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad in March last year, according to the Observatory's figures.
All senior commanders and other officers escaped injury in Wednesday's attack on army headquarters, the military said.
State television showed video footage of a white van exploding beside the military headquarters, and a second blast inside the compound. It said the bombings came 10 minutes apart, and that 14 people were wounded.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army's Military Council in Damascus, Ahmed al-Khatib, said the attack was staged with two car bombs.
Syria's military said the "terrorist explosions around and inside the army headquarters were caused by two car bombs driven by suicide attackers."
It was the biggest attack on the security apparatus since a July 18 suicide bombing against a heavily guarded headquarters in Damascus killed four top regime officials, including defense minister General Daoud Rajha and Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.
The strike came as the bloodshed dominated proceedings at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
"The atrocities mount while the Security Council remains paralyzed and I would urge that we try once again to find a path forward" so that the council can try to end the violence, Clinton said.
Her appeal came amid mounting attempts by Western governments to press Russia and China to ease their opposition to U.N. action against the Assad regime.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the blood of children killed in the conflict had become "a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations."
Arab ministers weighed calls for intervention, meeting U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the General Assembly sidelines.
The U.N. humanitarian affairs chief, Valerie Amos, said that 2.5 million people affected directly or indirectly by the war need aid.
Some 1.2 million people have been displaced inside Syria and another 300,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries, such as Turkey and Lebanon, exerting tremendous pressure on them.
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