Damascus: A video posted online in the name of a shadowy militant group has claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in the Syrian capital this week, while violence in Syria cost at least eight lives on Saturday.
In the video posted late on Friday, a group calling itself the Al-Nusra Front says the bombing, in which 55 people were killed, was in response to attacks on residential areas by the regime of President Bashar Assad.
"We fulfilled our promise to respond with strikes and explosions," a distorted voice says, reading black text that rolls across a white screen while Islamic chanting plays in the background.
The video's authenticity could not be independently verified. The Al-Nusra Front has claimed past bombings in Syria through posts on militant websites. Little is known about the group.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, meanwhile, said today that security force gunfire killed a man and a woman during a series of raids in Idlib province on Syria's northern border with Turkey and a hotspot of the 14-month-old revolt against Assad's rule.
A third civilian was killed in pre-dawn shelling of the village of Mork in central Hama province, the Britain-based watchdog said, while a fourth was killed by sniper fire in the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor.
And four soldiers were killed in clashes between armed rebel groups and regime forces in Hantuten village of Idlib province, northwest Syria, according to the Observatory.
Also on Saturday, Turkey said two Turkish journalists who were detained in Syria were on their way home.
Turkey's Anadolu agency said a plane carried Adem Ozkose and Hamit Coskun on Saturday to Iran, where a Turkish plane will return them to Turkey.
The pair were reported missing in early March, and were not heard from until last weekend when they made brief telephone calls to their families from detention in Damascus. Iran mediated between Turkey and Syria to release the journalists.
Elsewhere, Syrian troops also clashed with rebel fighters in the flashpoint central province of Homs, in southern Daraa province, and in several areas of Damascus province.
The persistent violence came as the UN mission in Syria said it now had 145 military observers on the ground, just shy of half the force of 300 authorised by the Security Council. They are backed by 56 civilian staff.
The observers are tasked with shoring up a promised ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan that was supposed to take effect on April 12 but which has been broken daily.
(With Agency inputs)
First Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 14:26