At least 17 civilians were killed and 14 injured in a car bomb attack on a security post in the southern Sidi Qada suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus early Sept. 27. The explosion occurred on the intersection leading to Saydah Zeinab, a Shi’ite shrine frequently visited by Iranian and Iraqi pilgrims. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the most deadly to have ever hit Syria. The blast comes days after Syria had sent forces to the Lebanese border, citing unnamed internal security reasons but drawing protests from Beirut. It was the first explosion in Syria since the car bomb assassination of Imad Mughniyah, military commander of Hezbollah, in February. (AlJazeera, AP, Reuters, Sept. 27)
Meanwhile, a UN inquiry into suspected Syrian nuclear activity has been delayed by the assassination of UN investigators’ top contact in Damascus, top presidential security adviser Brig. Gen. Mohamed Suleiman, who was shot dead on a beach near Tartus last month. International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei said the death of the IAEA’s “main interlocutor” had made the inquiry more difficult. ElBaradei did not identify the murdered official during a closed-door IAEA meeting about the Syria, but diplomats identified him as Suleiman.
The UN says samples taken from the al-Kibar desert industrial site in Syria—bombed by Israeli warplanes last year—have so far shown no indication of nuclear material. Damascus denies US and Israeli claims that a nuclear installation was under construction at the site, but the ruins were bulldozed after the attack. Washington recently protested the bulldozing of the site. Damascus responded by accusing the US of using “twisted logic” in pressuring his country, rather than condemning the Israeli attack. Full results from samples taken in June from the site are due to be released within weeks. (BBC, Sept. 26)
See our last post on Syria.
Saudi fatwa: destroy Shi’ite shrines
Could this be a piece of the puzzle? The Shi’ite news site Jafariya reported on July 22, 2007 that a group of “evil clerics” in Saudi Arabia had issued a fatwa calling for the destruction of Shia’s holiest sites—including the shrines Ali and Hussein in Iraq, and the Sayedah Zeinab in Syria.
See our last post on the struggle within Islam.