At least two rocket-propelled grenades hit a ruling Baath Party building in Damascus on Sunday, residents said, in the first insurgent attack reported inside the Syrian capital since an eight-month uprising began against President Bashar al-Assad.
The attack occurred hours after an Arab League deadline for Syria to end its crackdown against protesters passed with no sign of violence abating, and Assad remained defiant in the face of growing global isolation.
"Security police blocked off the square where the Baath's Damascus branch is located. But I saw smoke rising from the building and fire trucks around it," said one witness, who declined to be named.
"The attack was just before dawn and the building was mostly empty. It seems to have been intended as a message to the regime," said the witness.
The Syrian Free Army, comprised of army defectors and based Turkey, claimed responsibility for the attack.No independent verification of the claim was immediately available. The authorities have barred most independent journalists from entering the country.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 people were killed on Saturday by government forces. On Friday dozens were reported killed in clashes.Assad was quoted on Saturday as saying he would press on with the crackdown against protesters despite increased international pressure to end it."The conflict will continue and the pressure to subjugate Syria will continue," he told a newspaper.