Syria ex-Qaeda denies involvement in Damascus bombings


BEIRUT: Rebel factions, including Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate the Fateh al-Sham Front, issued rare denials of any involvement in twin suicide attacks that killed 32 people in Damascus on Wednesday.

The Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is dominated by Fateh al-Sham, said it “denies any link to the Damascus explosions”.

“Our goals are confined to security branches and military barracks of the criminal regime and its allies,” it said in a statement published on Telegram late Wednesday.

Fateh al-Sham had earlier claimed responsibility for twin bombings which killed 74 people on Saturday, most of them Iraqi pilgrims who had traveled to the Syrian capital to visit Shiite shrines.

It also claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 42 people in Syria’s third city Homs last month.

Wednesday’s attacks targeted a Damascus courthouse, where 32 people were killed and 100 wounded, and a restaurant in the west of the capital, where 25 people were wounded.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

The bombings drew condemnation from Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham which described them as “criminal terrorist blasts.”

It accused the government of provocation, an allegation also leveled by another Islamist rebel group, Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), which said the attacks had been “staged”.

“The regime of (Bashar al-) Assad achieved two central goals: tarnishing the revolution with the stain of terrorism… and creating sectarian tensions within a united people,” the group said.

The attacks came as the United Nations prepares to convene a new round of peace negotiations between the government and the opposition in Geneva next Thursday.

Rebel delegates stayed away from parallel talks which wrapped up in the Kazakh capital Astana on Wednesday. AFP




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