Men stand amidst wreckage and debris, after a car bomb exploded at a crowded petrol station in Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Photo from Reuters
Syria has said a car bomb at a crowded petrol station in
Damascus was set off by "terrorists", a term it uses for
rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
The bomb killed 11 people and wounded 40 at a station packed
with Syrians queuing for fuel, which has become scarce in the
21-month insurgency against Assad, in the second petrol
station attack in the capital this week, opposition activists
"Terrorists ... blew up an explosive device at Qassioun
Petrol Station near Hamish Hospital in Barzeh, Damascus,
martyring several civilians," state news agency SANA said.
The United Nations says more than 60,000 people have been
killed in the civil war, the longest, bloodiest conflict born
from uprisings across the Arab world in the past two years.
Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they
waited for fuel at another Damascus petrol station on
Wednesday (local time), according to opposition sources.
The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station aired its
own footage from Barzeh, indicating the attack struck a
government-held area. Barzeh's residents include members of
the Sunni Muslim majority and religious and ethnic
The rebels hold a crescent of suburbs on the southern and
eastern edges of Damascus, which have come under bombardment
by government forces. Rebel forces also seized territory in
Syria's north and east during advances in the second half of
The war pits rebels, mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority,
against a government supported by members of Assad's
Shi'ite-derived Alawite sect and some members of other
minorities who fear revenge if he falls. Assad's family has
ruled for 42 years since his father seized power in a coup.
Fighting has forced 560,000 Syrians to flee to neighbouring
countries, according to the U.N.
Lebanon, a country which has so far tried to distance itself
from the conflict next door for fear it will inflame
sectarian tensions, approved a plan to start registering
170,000 Syrian refugees and ask international donors for $180
million in aid.
"The Lebanese state will register the refugees...and
guarantee aid and protection for the actual refugees in
Lebanon," Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour said after a
six-hour cabinet session on Thursday night.
Most Sunni-ruled Arab states, as well as the West and Turkey
have called for Assad to step down. He is supported by Russia
and Shi'ite Iran.
A Lebanese citizen who crossed into Syria through a
mountainous frontier region said the army appeared to have
withdrawn from several border posts and villages in the area.
Rebels controlled a line of border towns and villages north
of the capital Damascus, stretching about 40km from Yabroud
south to Rankus, said the man, who did not want to be named
and visited Syria on Wednesday and Thursday.
Rebels in the area reported that some of Assad's forces have
pulled back to defend the main north-south highway linking
Syria's main cities of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo, while
others were sent to reinforce the northern approach to
"The border is controlled by the Free Syrian Army rebels," he
said on Friday, adding he had crossed through mountainous
terrain, covered in parts by more than a metre of snow.