A scarred city with the wounds of war

Updated: 2012-05-17 07:46

By Li Lianxing (China Daily)

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The dead and wounded had already been sent to mortuaries and hospitals, and at first the locals were dazed and quiet as they busily cleared away the scorched fragments and searched through the debris.

Later, however, the crowd became more agitated and repeatedly shouted slogans in support of the unification of the Syrian people and against Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two countries in the forefront of recent criticism of the Syrian authorities.

A scarred city with the wounds of war

Security forces and civilians inspect the damage near the site of the May 10 explosions in Damascus. The powerful blasts, detonated in quick succession, rocked the Syrian capital.

A middle-aged man raised his hand and showed me a muddy drawing book and a half-burned schoolbag of the size carried by kids attending kindergarten or primary school. "Look, how brutal they are! Do you know how many innocent children were just on the way to school?" he demanded, unable to control his emotions.

It later emerged that the first blast had been triggered to draw security guards and civilians to the area. Once a crowd had gathered, a much larger bomb was detonated, killing at least 55 people and injuring hundreds. It was the sort of attack that's become the hallmark of al-Qaeda.

The blasts followed a previous bombing at a checkpoint in the southern city of Daraa, just after a UN convoy had passed through. No UN observers were hurt in the attack, but several Syrian soldiers and journalists sustained injuries.

According to the Associated Press, the United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US has intelligence indicating that there is an al-Qaeda presence in Syria, but he gave no clear information about numbers, influence or activities.