Continued from page 1

An amateur video posted online showed smoke billowing from several spots in an area near a major road. The narrator said: “A series of explosions shake the capital Damascus.” The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.

Over the past few months, rebels have increasingly targeted security sites and symbols of regime power, particularly in the main cities of Damascus and Aleppo, in a bid to turn the tide.

In July, a bombing in the heart of Damascus killed four senior security officials including the defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law. Other large blasts have targeted the headquarters of security agencies in the capital, killing scores of people this year.

Abu Hisham al-Shami, an activist based in Damascus, told The Associated Press via Skype that the “Sons of Martyrs School” had recently been turned into a regime security center. He said government forces use the school as a base to fire mortars at rebellious neighborhoods.

State-run television quoted the director of the school, Mohammed Amin Othman, as saying that two bombs exploded inside the school, wounding seven people and causing minor damage. State TV said the bombs were planted by “terrorists,” the term the government uses for rebels.

Othman said in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency that no students were at the school at the time of the blast because it does not open until next week. Although the school year started last week in Syria, Othman said the boarding school opens later.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 people were wounded, some of them seriously, in several blasts at the school. It said most of the wounded were members of the military.

A worker outside the school, who refused to be identified, said two diesel tankers exploded inside the school compound, wounding at least four people, one of them seriously. He added that the wounded were rushed to nearby hospitals.

He said a thick plume of smoke billowed over the area and fire reached the fifth story of the building. A nearby theater for the school’s students was partially damaged and the blast caused its ceiling to collapse.

Also Tuesday, Syrian rebels released Lebanese citizen Awad Ibrahim, who was one of 11 Shiite Muslim pilgrims abducted in May shortly after entering Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon, the Lebanese state-run National News Agency reported.

Ibrahim, who crossed into Turkey Tuesday afternoon and expected to fly home later, is the second to be released. The nine others are still being held in northern Syria.

His release came after two Turkish citizens and several Syrians were set free in Beirut after being abducted by Lebanese tribesmen to press for the release of Lebanese. Turkey hosts leading Syrian opposition figures and rebel commanders.

In Jordan, dozens of Syrian refugees angry over harsh living conditions in their desert tent camp clashed with Jordanian police, hurling stones and smashing charity offices and a hospital, officials and refugees said Tuesday.

The rioting late Monday in the Zaatari camp was the worst violence since the facility opened in July near the Jordan-Syria border. More than 25 policemen were injured by stones thrown by the refugees, a police official said.

A Syrian refugee in the camp, Abu Nawras, said police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters who were demanding improved conditions, better food and education for their children.

Story Continues →