After Friday's bombings in Aleppo, Zuheir al-Atasi, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, accused the government of staging the attacks.
"After the heavy explosions, members of the opposition went to the site to film it. There were ambulances but no corpses. We documented that on tape," he said in Vienna during a gathering of Syrian opposition groups. "When the Syrian National TV arrived they started to bring out corpses. Once again we witnessed a theater play."
There is virtually no way to determine who was behind the attacks or to perform an independent investigation in Syria, one of the most authoritarian states in the Middle East. Assad has largely sealed off the country and prevented reporters from moving freely. The Arab League sent a now-suspended observer mission into the country to provide an outside view, but government minders accompanied the team.
Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, a think tank in the Qatari capital, said prolonged chaos in Syria could open the door to militant groups like Al Qaeda.
"The longer this goes on, we may get a more permissive environment in Syria for these kinds of characters as the Syrian people get more and more desperate," he said. "I don't think they would be welcomed in Syria but there may be desperate people in Syria who are looking for any kind of help."
Still, Shaikh is not convinced that Saturday's statement was anything more than the terrorist group trying to reassert its influence in the Middle East, now that the Arab Spring uprisings have, in many ways, pushed it to the sidelines.