Damascus, Mar 18: Two huge bomb blasts killed at least 27 people in Syria's capital on Saturday, sparking anger at Riyadh and Doha, as special envoy Kofi Annan warned of regional fallout from the year-long bloodshed.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has started delivering arms to Syrian rebels, an Arab diplomat told AFP, while its rival Iran is suspected of sending weapons to its Syrian regime allies.
State television said the early morning “terrorist” attacks, apparently car bombings timed minutes apart, had targeted police headquarters in the Duwar al-Jamarek area and air force intelligence offices in Al-Qasaa district.
The explosions killed 27 people, mainly civilians, and wounded 140 civilians and security personnel, the interior ministry said.
Three people had been reduced to “body parts” by the force of the blast, it added.
As angry residents vented their fury at Arab supporters of anti-regime activists, the state broadcaster ran footage of a charred body inside the mangled remains of a smouldering vehicle in Duwar al-Jamarek.
The other blast totally gutted the facade of a multi-storey building, also destroying several cars. The channel broadcast images of wrecked apartments and blood-splattered streets.
From Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: “France condemns all acts of terrorism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances.” France has been at the forefront of calls for Assad to quit.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr affirmed Cairo's “fixed position against terrorism in any form, regardless of the reasons behind it.” The continuing bloodshed confirmed the need to start implementing the Arab League initiative, he added.
Bombings have hit Syria's major cities in recent months provoking mounting concern that Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria's opposition however has accused the regime of having stage-managed the attacks.
Commentators on state television blamed Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the fiercest Arab critics of Assad over his regime's deadly crackdown on dissent since March 2011. Both countries have called for rebels to be armed.
“Saudi Arabia is sending us terrorists,” a resident of the devastated areas said on television.
“These are the friends... of the Istanbul council,” said another of the opposition Syrian National Council set up in the Turkish city last August.
An Arab diplomat told AFP that Saudi Arabia, which closed its embassy in Damascus this week, was delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels.
“Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the (rebel) Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat said, on condition of anonymity.
“This is a Saudi initiative to stop the massacres in Syria.” Jordan rejected the report.
“Jordan categorically denies the report,” government spokesman and Information Minister Rakan Majali told AFP. “This is completely baseless.”
Iraq, another neighbour of Syria, has informed Tehran it will not allow arms shipments to the country to pass through or over its territory, Baghdad government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said today.
The United States has said it was concerned that Iranian cargo flights over Iraq to Syria could be carrying arms to help Damascus crush protests.