Damascus: More than 20 people were killed on Monday in blasts targeting security buildings in the city of Idlib in northwest Syria, as an explosion was also reported in the capital, a monitoring group said.
The violence a day after the arrival of the chief of a United Nations monitoring mission was sure to put further strain on a UN-backed ceasefire that went into effect on April 12 but has failed to take hold fully.
Most of those killed in Idlib were members of the security forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. State television put the death toll at eight, among them civilians, and said scores of people were also wounded in the two blasts in Idlib's Hananu Square, on Carlton Street.
The channel said "terrorists" were behind the attacks, a term it uses to refer to rebels seeking to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. It showed footage of bloodstains on the ground, and groups of angry people denouncing the violence and expressing support for Assad.
"Is this the freedom they want?" shouted one man, standing near a woman who was carrying a child with blood running down his forehead. An apartment block appeared to be in ruins and cars nearby were flattened by the force of the explosion.
A powerful blast, probably a car bomb, was also reported near Damascus, the Britain-based Observatory added. "A strong explosion shook the suburbs of Qudsiya and it appears it was a car bomb," it said. "Initial reports indicate there are casualties."
Overnight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the Central Bank in the capital, state media reported, after a suicide car bombing in the heart of the city on Friday killed 11 people.