Al-Qaida-linked Group Says It Was Behind Damascus Bombings

Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant People says Thursday's twin suicide bombings in Syria that killed 55, wounded 372, were in retaliation for regime attack of residential areas.

A militant group with suspected links to al-Qaida on Saturday claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings that killed at least 55 people, and wounded 372 in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The group, which called itself Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant People, said in an online statement that the bombings on Thursday, which targeted a security building, were in retaliation for the regime's bombardment of residential areas in the country.

An aerial view shows the site of two explosions in Damascus, May 10, 2012.

"We tell this regime to stop its massacres of the Sunni (Muslim) people or face the consequences," said the statement on the independent website Syria Politic.

The video's authenticity could not be independently verified. The Al-Nusra Front has claimed past attacks through statements posted on militant websites. Little is known about the group, although Western intelligence officials say it could be a front for al-Qaida.

Meanwhile, Turkey's state news agency Anatolian reported on Saturday that two Turkish journalists, who were detained in Syria for the past two months, have been released and were being flown to Tehran, Turkey's state news agency Anatolian reported Saturday.

It said that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had received the news of the release from his Iranian counterpart, but gave no information on how the release had been arranged.

Damascus bombing - Reuters - 10.5.12

Turkish media reports Friday claimed that the imminent release of the two journalists had been negotiated by Iran. However, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials were unable to confirm this to dpa.

The two journalists - Adem Ozkose and Hamit Coskun - who were working for a small-circulation Islamist newspaper, Milat, were captured inside Syria by government forces in early March.

They were believed to have entered the country illegally in order to film clashes between the Syrian army and rebels fighting in the north-western city of Idlib.

Violence continued in Syria on Saturday as at least two people were wounded when Syrian troops bombarded areas in the dissident province of Homs, opposition activists said, in the latest violation of a month-old United Nations-brokered ceasefire.

 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Syrianopposition rebels killed four soldiers and wounded nine in an attack in the northern province of Idlib on Saturday.

The attack targeted two army personnel carriers during clashes between rebels and the military in a village in Idlib, the London-based observatory said in a statement.

Omar Homsi, an activist based in Homs, said: "Heavy shelling targeted the district of Al Koussor." He told dpa that troops also stormed suburban areas in the central province of Hama, another focal point in the anti-regime revolt.

Homs has been a key stronghold of rebels demanding the ouster of President Bashasr Assad since a pro-democracy uprising erupted in March 2011.

The military on Saturday set up more checkpoints across the northern city of Aleppo after an overnight bombing targeted the offices of the ruling Baath Party, killing at least one person, according to the opposition.

The blast came hours after the authorities claimed to have foiled a suicide attack in Aleppo.

The ceasefire that went into effect on April 12 was a key element of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. Its near-daily violations and the persistent violence has raised doubts about the viability of the plan.