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Two Massive Blasts Rock Syrian Capital of Damascus


Damaged vehicles and rubble are strewn along the street following twin bomb attacks on security buildings in the Syrian capital Damascus on March 17, 2012. At least 27 people - civilians and police - were killed, according to state television. Preliminary reports suggested that vehicles packed with explosives had been blown up



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Two "terrorist explosions" struck security targets in the Syrian capital Saturday morning, killing at least 27 people and wounding 140, the state-run news agency said.

SANA said many of the dead were civilians, including children and senior citizens. CBS News' George Baghdadi, who's in Damascus, reports many of the wounded were brought to a Red Crescent hospital. CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata, from London, said many of the wounded were in critical condition.

SANA said preliminary information indicated the blasts were caused by car bombs that hit the aviation intelligence department and the criminal security department at around 7:30 a.m local time. Shooting broke out in the wake of the blast and sent residents and others who had gathered in the area fleeing, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

SANA posted gruesome photographs of the scene, with mangled and charred corpses, bloodstains on the streets and twisted steel.

"All our windows and doors are blown out," said Majed Seibiyah, 29, who lives in the area. "I was sleeping when I heard a sound like an earthquake. I didn't grasp what was happening until I hear screaming in the street."

D'Agata says, "My colleagues in Damascus describe the twin bombings as the biggest the capital has seen, in terms of the sheer size of the explosions and the damage done. Dramatic footage (on TV in Syria) shows three- and four-story buildings completely demolished. ... Surrounding residential neighborhoods -- these are upscale neighborhoods -- bore the brunt of the blast.

One year into the Syrian revolt, the fight to oust President Bashar Assad is transforming into a nascent civil war. The regime says it is fighting foreign terrorists and armed gangs, denying there is a popular will behind the revolt. But Assad's opponents say they have been forced to carry weapons because the government used tanks, snipers and machine guns to crush peaceful protests



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