Car bomb and suicide attacks kill 17 in Syria

Suicide bombers target security compounds in the Syrian capital, killing at least five people, while a car bomb kills 12 regime soldiers in Aleppo.

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DAMASCUS // Suicide bombers targeted security compounds in the Syrian capital yesterday, killing at least five people, while a car bomb killed 12 regime soldiers in Aleppo, the state news agency and activists said.

Five people were killed and several others wounded when three suicide bombers blew themselves up while trying to break into the Rukneddine police station in northern Damascus, the state-run Sana news agency said. It said three other would-be suicide bombers tried to break into the Criminal Security Branch in the southern Bab Mousalla area but were caught before they could detonate their explosives.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the Damascus explosions, but they bore the hallmarks of Al Qaeda-linked groups that have joined forces with rebels fighting to remove the president, Bashar Al Assad.

The attacks in Syria's two largest cities came as regime forces pressed an offensive in the outskirts of the capital and a day after an 11-nation group pledged to increase aid to the opposition.

In neighbouring Lebanon, meanwhile, three soldiers were killed in street clashes with supporters of the hardline Sunni imam, Ahmad Al Assir, in the latest spillover of the Syrian conflict across the border.

The fighting broke out in the predominantly Sunni southern port city of Sidon after Mr Al Assir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint.

The military said three soldiers, including two officers, were killed in the shooting, which it said was unprovoked.

Heavy fighting with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades caused panic in the heavily populated city, which until recently had been largely spared the fighting in other areas.