Turkey fortifies border; bomb hits Syrian capital
BEIRUT – Turkey deployed anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers and other weapons along its border with Syria on Thursday, a military buildup that came as world powers showed new urgency to resolve the crisis before it ignites the region.
A bomb exploded in central Damascus near a busy market and the country’s main justice complex, wounding at least three people, damaging cars in a parking lot and sending a black cloud rising above the Syrian capital. It was not clear who was behind the bombing.
Much of the violence that has gripped Syria since the uprising began in March 2011 has been sanctioned by the government of President Bashar Assad to crush dissent. Activists say more than 14,000 people have been killed.
But rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest al-Qaida or other extremists are joining the fray.
Assad told Iranian state TV Thursday that his country supports him, and he warned that any intervention in Syria will cause a “domino” effect in the region. He has given similar warnings before, saying the entire Middle East will go up in flames if others meddle in his country.
Turkey, a former ally of Syria, has become one of the strongest critics of the Assad regime, and tensions between the two countries spiked after the downing of a Turkish military plane last week.