Al-Qaeda behind terrorism, says U.N. chief Ban

Regime forces fired on protesters who took to the streets of Aleppo on Friday, wounding several people at the biggest rally seen in Syria's second city since a revolt erupted last year, a watchdog said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said demonstrators also suffered gunshot wounds in Douma, a key protest hub near Damascus, but did not provide any casualty figures.

“Thousands of people demonstrated in various districts [of Aleppo] despite the repression,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“These are the most important events in Aleppo since the beginning of the revolt,” he told AFP in Beirut.

The government said its forces foiled a suicide bomb attack in Aleppo last Friday, a day after twin bombings in Damascus killed 55 people and wounded nearly 400. It has repeatedly blamed such attacks on “terrorists”.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he believed Al-Qaeda committed the Damascus attack. “Very alarmingly and surprisingly, a few days ago, there was a huge serious massive terrorist attack. I believe that there must be al-Qaeda behind it. This has created again very serious problems,” said Mr. Ban.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the U.S. and Russia, has already pointed to an Al-Qaeda presence in the country since the revolt against his regime began.

The Observatory said at least seven died in violence across the country on Friday, including two children and a woman killed by regime forces. Besides Aleppo, protests demanding the ouster of Mr. Assad also took place in Damascus, the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, northeastern Hasaka, Homs in central Syria, and northwestern Idlib, said the Britain-based Observatory.

The Observatory said tens of thousands of people rallies across the country, in the biggest demonstrations since an April 12 ceasefire which has been violated on a daily basis.

More In: International | News