Washington: The Iraqi branch of al Qaeda
carried out two recent bombings in Damascus and was likely
behind suicide bombings that killed at least 28 people in the
Syrian city of Aleppo, according to a media report.
Citing unnamed US officials, McClatchy Newspapers said
the incidents appeared to verify Syrian President Bashar
Assad`s charges of al Qaeda involvement in the uprising
against his rule.
The Syrian opposition has claimed that the Assad regime
had staged the bombings to discredit the pro-democracy
movement, the report said.
The first Damascus attack occurred on December 23, when
suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives outside
intelligence agency compounds, killing at least 44 people.
On January 6, at least 26 people were killed and dozens
injured in a bombing against a second intelligence agency
The al Qaeda presence in Syria also raises the
possibility that Islamic extremists will try to hijack the
uprising, McClatchy Newspapers said.
US intelligence reports indicate that the bombings came
on the orders of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian who assumed
leadership of al Qaeda after the last year`s death of Osama
bin Laden, the newspaper chain noted.
US officials said that al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) began
pushing to become involved in Syria as Assad`s security forces
and gangs of loyalists launched a crackdown on opposition
demonstrations, igniting large-scale bloodshed, the report
Zawahiri finally authorised AQI to begin operations in
Syria in what`s believed to be the first time that the branch
has operated outside of Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers pointed