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The Mideast

Conflicting Reports Emerge After Series of Blasts in Syrian Capital

Residents in the Syrian capital woke up to two loud explosions Sunday amid activist reports that a major building belonging to the ruling Baath party in the capital Damascus had been by hit several rocket-propelled grenades.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report, which would mark the first significant attack on a government building in relatively quiet central Damascus.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network and several residents reported several explosions in the district of Mazraa in the heart of the Syrian capital.

The LCC said in a statement that the building had been hit at daybreak Sunday by several rocket propelled grenades and that two fire brigades headed toward the area amid heavy security presence.

But eyewitnesses said the building looked intact Sunday and reported no significant security deployment around it.

Residents in the Syrian capital said they heard two loud explosions but could not confirm whether the building had been hit.

"I woke up to the sound of two loud thuds," said a resident of the area who asked that he remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

Damascus-based journalist Thabet Salem, who lives about a kilometer away from the Baath party building and heard the explosions, said if the reports are confirmed, it would signal a new phase in the Syrian uprising.

"It would be an escalation that gives a new dimension to the whole situation," he said.

Syria's uprising against President Bashar Assad has grown more violent and militarized in recent weeks, as frustrated protesters see the limits of peaceful action.

Army dissidents who sided with the protests have also grown more bold, fighting back against regime forces and even assaulting military bases.

The so called Free Syrian Army group of dissident soldiers this week staged their boldest operation yet, attacking a military intelligence building in a Damascus suburb.