Rebels bomb Syrian security site
Bombs planted by rebels exploded at a school building occupied by pro-government militias in Damascus today and world leaders discussed Syria's deepening crisis at a UN General Assembly meeting, but without proposals to resolve it.
Vastly outgunned, rebels fighting to topple president Bashar al-Assad have increasingly relied on home-made bombs to target their opponents, striving to level the playing field against state forces using fighter jets, artillery and tanks.
"At exactly 9:35am, seven improvised devices were set off in two explosions to target a school used for weekly planning meetings between shabbiha militia and security officers," said Abu Moaz, a leader of Ansar al-Islam, one of the rebel groups in the 18-month-old revolt against Dr Assad.
Rebels said they hoped their attack would kill top-level security officials - as they did with a major Damascus bombing in July - but gave no casualty count. State media said at least seven people were wounded, with minor damage to buildings.
Activists say that more than 27,000 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising, but the geo-strategic rivalries of world and regional powers have wrought deadlock over how to solve the conflict. The West and Gulf Arab states have sided with the opposition, while Iran, Russia and China have supported Assad.
Arab nations should intervene in Syria given the UN Security Council's failure to stop the civil war in the country, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
Qatar, which backs the rebels, earlier called on big powers to prepare a "Plan B" within weeks and set up a no-fly zone to provide a safe haven inside Syria in case international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi fails to make headway.
The Qatari emir said he believed Arab and European countries would be ready to take part, despite their public wariness of committing the forces needed for such a mission.
Addressing the General Assembly, US President Barack Obama accused Iran of helping keep a dictatorship in power in Syria.
"Just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government props up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad," Mr Obama said in a reference to Assad.
"We again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin."
Syria's conflict, once a peaceful protest movement, has evolved into a civil war that the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said was "extremely bad and getting worse." He said that the stalemate in the country could soon "find an opening", without elaborating.