A car bomb has killed nine people in Syria's eastern city of Deir Ezzor. State media said 100 people were also injured. It is the first such bombing in the city since Syria's anti-regime uprising began 15 months ago.
Syria's state-run news agency SANA said a 1,000-kilogram device exploded in a parking lot of a military residential compound. State television showed smoldering vehicles, damaged buildings, a crater 2.5 meters deep and a large bloodstain.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bomb went off close to city branches of Syria's Military Intelligence Directorate and Air Force Intelligence, a day after protesters had rallied in the city, demanding Preisdent Bashir Assad's ouster.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's bombing. Deir Ezzor was once a transit hub for so-called jihadi militants who headed to nearby Iraq to fight US-led forces after their invasion of 2003.
Saturday's bombing coincided with the G8 leaders' talks at Camp David, outside Washington, where Syria's perilous situation is on the agenda, with Russia opposed to further sanctions being imposed on Assad's regime.
Elsewhere in Syria on Saturday at least 10 further people were killed. Among them were a woman and her two children who were shot dead in the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It said a rocket also slammed into the local offices of Assad's ruling Baath party in the town of Al-Bab located in the Aleppo region. This time, it said, there were no casualties.
Protests in previously pro-Assad regions
On Friday there was also a large anti-regime demonstration in Aleppo, the capital of the region, which had previously remained supportive of Assad. Regime forces reportedly fired into the air to disperse thousands of protesters.
Anti-regime protests in Aleppo have grown since security forces raided the dormitories at Aleppo University, killing four students.
The observatory said Friday's protests, which also took place in Damascus, Homs in central Syria, northwestern Idlib, northeastern Hasaka, and Deir Ezzor, were the biggest demonstrations since an April 12 ceasefire which has been violated on a daily basis.
In Damascus, the head of the United Nations observer mission, Major General Robert Mood of Norway said his team "will reach full operational capabilities in record time."
Some 260 unarmed observers out of a planned 300 are now in Syria.
He warned, however, that an end to the violence was not possible "if the commitment to give dialogue a chance is not genuine from all internal and external factors."
Syria's ambassador cites weapons smuggling
On May 10 a large bomb went off outside a government intelligence building in Damascus, killing 55 people. The bombing raised fears that extremist groups are exploiting the chaos in Syria.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Friday there was no proof that al Qaeda had been behind the Damascus attack, but said it was clearly carried out "by a group with organization and intent."
Syria's ambassador at the UN, Bashar Ja'afari has sent a letter to the UN Security Council, according to the news agency Reuters, alleging that "terrorist elements from al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood" had stocked warehouses weapons and ammunition in border regions of Lebanon to "smuggle them to Syria."
Lebanon has long had close ties with its neighbor Syria which in 2005 withdrew thousands of its troops from Lebanese soil.
ipj/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)