Syrian rebels hit army headquarters in Damascus

Syrian rebels claim to have planted bombs inside the Syrian army’s general staff headquarters.

Free Syrian Army opposition fighters battle government security forces during the siege of the Shaar district police station in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Picture: AFP.

AMMAN - Syrian rebels said they planted bombs inside the Syrian army's General Staff headquarters in central Damascus on Sunday as President Bashar al-Assad's forces bulldozed buildings to the ground in parts of the capital that have backed the uprising.

Syrian state television said four people were wounded in what it called a terrorist attack on the General Staff compound in the highly guarded Abu Rummaneh district, where another bomb attack killed four of Assad's top lieutenants two months ago.

"The operation targeted officers in the Assad army who have been planning and giving the go ahead for the massacres against the Syrian people," said a video statement by the Grandsons of the Prophet brigade, a division of the Free Syrian Army.

"Bombs were planted inside the army headquarters," said the video statement, which was broadcasted on Arab satellite channels.

However, as the rebels demonstrated they could strike at the heart of the security apparatus, residents said army bulldozers moved on al-Zayat and Farouk neighbourhoods to the west, and destroyed at least 20 buildings in the Sunni Muslim areas that have sheltered the insurgents.

In the eastern Damascus neighbourhood of Hazza, footage taken by activists on Sunday showed several buildings on fire. Opposition sources said the army had earlier stormed the area and executed 27 young men.

"Any youth of fighting age seems to have been captured and killed," said activist Obadah al-Haj, who had fled the area.

Activist video footage from the area showed a young man lying dead beside a yellow taxi, shot in the face. Another dead youth was in the driver seat, blood covering his head and chest.

Assad belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has dominated power since members of the sect led a military coup in 1963. Assad's father took power in 1970.

Loyalist forces killed at least 25 men on Sunday when they shelled and stormed al-Fan, a Sunni village in the province of Hama, opposition campaigners said.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said most of the men appear to have been killed by shelling, but an unspecified number were executed when troops stormed the village later. The official state news agency said a military operation on Fan targeted "terrorists who were scaring citizens".

Video footage from Fan taken by activists showed women and family members crying over bodies wrapped in white sheets and placed in a row on the floor of a mosque.