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Syrian rebels using IEDs — Sunnis’ weapon of choice — against Assad regime

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NICOSIA — The Syrian rebel movement has begun using powerful
roadside bombs against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Syrian officials said Sunni rebels have acquired powerful improvised
explosive devices similar to those used by Al Qaida in Iraq.

A Syrian rebel prepares a pipe bomb, which will be detonated to cut road access to their mountainous stronghold in the northern province of Idlib, on March 20. /Frederic Lafargue/AFP/Getty Images

They officials said the Damascus regime assessed that Al Qaida operatives from Iraq and Jordan were bringing the IEDs for attacks on Assad’s military and security forces.

On April 20, at least two powerful IEDs killed 10 Syrian soldiers. The
bombs, one of them planted near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights, were said to weigh up to 100 kilograms each and detonated by remote control.

“An armed terrorist group detonated a 100-kilogram bomb in the Golan Heights in the region of Quneitra, killing 10 members of the security forces,” Syrian state television said.

Officials said the bombs appeared to be the largest detonated yet by
Sunni rebels, who have been fighting the Assad regime since July 2011. They said the bomb in Quneitra targeted a bus that contained military personnel.

The Syrian opposition has not confirmed the use of the large IEDs. The
opposition Local Coordination Committees, however, said the Syrian Air Force
has employed fighter-jets to bomb suspected rebel strongholds in the
northern town of Dir Al Zour near the border with Turkey.

Sunni rebels have long smuggled weapons and explosives from Iraq and
Turkey. But the rebels were said to have encountered difficulty in bringing
the weapons to such Sunni strongholds as Hama and Homs.

Officials said the rebels appeared to be using the Jordanian border with
Syria for attacks on Assad forces. On April 20, a bombing in the southern
Syrian town of Karak killed five soldiers. At the same time, a powerful bomb
rocked a military airport outside Damascus.

“Armed terrorist groups are pursuing their terrorist attacks against
civilians and security forces as well as private and public property in
violation of the plan by [United Nations] envoy Kofi Annan,” the official
Syrian news agency, Sana, said.

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