Syria mourns victims of Damascus bombings as nine more killed in violence
A state funeral was Saturday held for the 55 people who were killed in twin suicide bombings in Damascus two days ago, while at least nine people were killed in violence across the country, according to the opposition, dpa reported.
State television showed footage from the funeral in the capital, where women clad in black threw rose petals on the coffins, wrapped in the national flag.
Male mourners, meanwhile, chanted "God bless Syria under the leadership of (Syrian president) Bashar (al Assad)."
A radical group linked to al-Qaeda claimed Saturday that it was behind the twin bombings, which injured more than 370 people near a security building in Damascus.
The Thursday attacks were the deadliest since a pro-democracy uprising started against al-Assad's regime in March 2011.
The group, calling itself Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant People, said in an online statement attributed to it that the bombings were in retaliation for the regime's bombardment of residential areas in the country.
"We tell this regime to stop its massacres of the Sunni (Muslim) people or face the consequences," said the statement, reproduced on the independent website Syria Politic.
The statement's authenticity could not be independently verified.
Meanwhile, violations of a UN-brokered ceasefire continued across Syria, resulting in nine deaths on Saturday.
An opposition group reported that rebels on Saturday killed four Syrian soldiers and wounded nine in an attack in the northern province of Idlib.
The attack targeted two army personnel carriers during clashes between rebels and the military in a village in Idlib, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
The state news agency SANA meanwhile said a "terrorist" group had assassinated a colonel and injured his brother, also a colonel, in a suburban area of Damascus.
Two civilians were killed by security forces during a crackdown in Idlib, reported opposition activists.
One man was also killed by a shell in the central province of Hama, while another was found dead in the dissident province of Homs, two days after he had been kidnapped by suspected pro-government militiamen, added the activists.
The persistent violence has reinforced doubts about the durability of the ceasefire, which came into effect on April 12.
UN observers, now in Syria to monitor the shaky truce, Saturday took delivery of 15 armoured vehicles to back up their mission, a UN official told dpa.
The vehicles, presented by the European Union, bring to 30 the number of such cars available to the observers, added the official.
The UN Security Council last month approved the dispatch of the observers to Syria. Their number is expected to reach 300 by the end of May.
The ceasefire is a key element of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan aimed at ending 14 months of bloodshed in the country.