Syria opposition chief blames al-Qaida for Damascus suicide blasts, says peace plan in crisis

The Associated Press reports: A Syrian opposition leader said Friday the regime is trying to destroy a U.N.-brokered peace plan for the country. The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.

The bombings fueled fears of a rising Islamic militant element among those seeking to oust President Bashar Assad and dealt a further blow to international efforts to end the bloodshed. Assad’s government blamed the blasts on armed terrorists it says are driving the uprising.

During a new conference in Tokyo, Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said there would be no peaceful solution to the violence in Syria without “a threat of force against those who don’t implement the plan.”

“Assad feels that he can run away from implementing all of his obligations without any consequences,” Ghalioun said.

In Damascus, workers were paving over two massive craters caused by the bombs that struck a Syrian military compound Thursday. The attack, which also wounded more than 370 people, was the deadliest against a regime target since the Syrian uprising began 14 months ago.

The Washington Post reports: Obama administration officials said they could not confirm who carried out the attack, but placed the blame squarely on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allowing the situation to escalate rather than complying with a United Nations resolution ordering a cease-fire supervised by U.N. monitors.

Russia, whose approval is necessary at the Security Council for any further U.N.-authorized action, accused countries supporting the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition of intentionally instigating heightened violence to justify military intervention.

“Some of our foreign partners are taking steps to ensure, both literally and figuratively, that the situation explodes,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, making clear that he was “referring to the bombings.”

Lavrov made his remarks at a news conference in Beijing, alongside his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who reiterated his government’s rejection of “outside military intervention in Syria.”

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