Syria calls on U.N. to fight terror; Arab League says blast aimed to foil Annan’s plan


Syria’s foreign ministry said a twin bombing in the capital Damascus on Thursday was a sign the country is facing foreign-backed terrorism, as the Arab League said the attack that killed 55 people in Damascus is intended to undercut a U.N. mission to monitor a truce in the country.

It called on the United Nations Security Council to fight countries or groups supporting violence in the 14-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

“Syria stresses the importance of the UNSC taking measures against countries, groups and news agencies that are practicing and encouraging terrorism,” the state news agency SANA quoted the ministry as saying in a letter addressed to the Security Council.

The foreign ministry made the accusation in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hours after the deadliest bombing attacks of the country’s uprising, which also wounded nearly 400 people in Damascus.

The ministry also said that “300 soldiers and members of the security forces have been killed by armed terrorist groups since April 12,” when a putative ceasefire technically went into effect, according to AFP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in since the revolt against the Assad regime broke out in March last year.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, meanwhile, “strongly condemned” the two suicide car bombings and called on all sides to cease armed violence and distance themselves from “indiscriminate bombings and other terrorist attacks.”

“The secretary-general strongly condemns today's attacks in Damascus,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters, according to Reuters.

“It’s an urgent call from him on all sides fully to comply with their obligations to cease armed violence in all its forms, and to protect civilians, as well as to distance themselves from indiscriminate bombings and other terrorist attacks,” he said.

Meanwhile, The Arab League chief said Thursday’s suicide bombings were intended to undercut a U.N. mission to monitor a Syria truce brokered by envoy Kofi Annan.

Nabil al-Arabi said those behind the attacks, the deadliest since an uprising against Assad began, sought to sabotage the work of the U.N. observers sent to verify a much-violated ceasefire declared on April 12, Reuters reported.

“This shouldn’t be ignored and carries dangerous implications for the future of Kofi Annan’s mission,” he said in a statement.

The U.N.-Arab League envoy is struggling to keep alive his six-point peace plan and avert full-scale civil war in Syria. He has said the government has yet to implement the agreement properly, while opposition forces have also broken the truce.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday 849 people -- 628 civilians and 221 soldiers, of whom 31 were defectors -- had been killed since the truce was declared, not including those who died in the latest Damascus bombings.

The Arab League sent its own monitors to Syria late last year to check compliance with an earlier peace plan, but withdrew them in January when violence intensified.