Jihadist group denies claiming Damascus bombings


Al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group unknown before the Syrian revolt, has denied in a statement that it had claimed responsibility for Damascus bombings last week that killed 55 people.

“Many news agencies, news websites, and satellite channels... have attributed” the Damascus bombings on Thursday targeting the security services “to Al-Nusra Front, based on a video posted on YouTube,” said the statement dated May 13.

“But we say, this video as well as the statement appearing in it are fabricated and... full of errors,” the group said in the statement published on jihadist forums.

“We did not receive from the front’s military department any affirmation or denial or information regarding the operation,” the group said.

“Any further information arriving (on the attack) will be published on official jihadist forums.”

In the apparently faked video, Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the bombings − the deadliest since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime erupted in March 2011 − “in response to regime bombing of residential areas in Damascus, Idlib, Hama, Daraa provinces and others.”

The group had claimed responsibility for previous bombings in Syria but these have been difficult to verify.

In the latest video, the speaker’s voice is electronically modified and no images of militants are shown.

The statement accompanying the video is titled “Communique No. 4,” although the group has already posted seven previous communiqués.

The group has allegedly claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including double blasts in Damascus on March 17 that killed 27 people, as well as two other deadly explosions in the capital and two in the northern city of Aleppo.

Russia’s foreign ministry has pointed the finger of blame for the bombings squarely at Al-Qaeda extremists, despite claims by the Syrian opposition that Assad’s government carried out the devastating attacks.

Analysts believe that while al-Qaeda itself does not exist in Syria, several splinter groups of jihadists who employ the same strategies as the network are operating there.

More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including more than 900 killed since a shaky truce went into effect on April 12.