Damascus car bomb wounds 11


A car bomb exploded yesterday outside a central Damascus hotel, wounding 11, as rebels claimed the capture of an oil field and the expatriate opposition Syrian National Council discussed reform in Qatar.

The bombing, the third to take place outside the Dama Rose Hotel and the labour federation, was claimed by Ahfad al-Rasoul, a jihadi group called Grandsons of the Prophet. UN monitors were formerly based at the hotel, where windows were shattered yet again.

Syrian military aircraft went into action east of the capital and troops clashed with rebels in Aleppo, Deraa and Idlib.

State news agency Sana said gunmen assassinated Ismail al-Hamadeh, a senior member of the ruling Baath Party, in Raqqa province, and killed actor Muhammad Raf in Damascus. It also said rebels, whom it named, murdered 30 civilians in the Idlib countryside, filmed the killings and sent videos to satellite channels.

Rebel Free Syrian Army fighters reportedly captured al-Ward oilfield in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, the first oil installation said to be seized. The field is one of the most productive in the province, the site of most of Syria’s oil facilities.

Council reform

During a four-day conference in Doha, the Syrian National Council plans to elect a new executive, reform its structures and broaden its reach by incorporating 120 new members.

The Muslim Brotherhood-dominated council has suffered from division and irrelevance due to its lack of political support and representation in fighting units in Syria. On Thursday, it will hold talks with a group of US-backed opposition figures with the object of forming a unified leadership that would take charge of the insurgency and form a government-in-exile. The council would have 15 seats in the 50-member body.

However, the council has criticised the plan, which would diminish its role, while opposition groups in Syria have been ignored.

Rim Turkmani, a spokeswoman for a domestic group, said a “coalition of coalitions” would not provide the Syrian opposition with effective leadership.