Syrian conflict may take on new dimension

May 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- There are concerns that terrorist groups like al-Qaida may try to exploit the ongoing security situation in Syria, a U.S. State Department official said.

More than two dozen people were killed this week in suicide bombings in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria as the conflict moves into its second year.

State Department officials this week expressed concern that extremists in the country may be taking advantage of the deteriorating security situation.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department said there were concerns the conflict may take on a new element.

"We are concerned that there are terrorist organizations, al-Qaida specifically, that often seek to exploit these kinds of situations," he said.

A small team of U.N. monitors is on the ground in Syria to observe the conditions of a mid-April peace plan brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Attacks have been ongoing, however, despite the presence of the monitors.

At least four people were killed Thursday when government forces allegedly stormed Aleppo University. Some 200 students were arrested and 28 others were injured in the violence.

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