Syrian state television aired CCTV footage, republished by the Daily Telegraph, of what it says were the two explosions. The first explosion appears to have been a suicide car bomb by the side of the road outside the military base; the video shows a white van pulling up to the curb and then exploding, with no one in its immediate vicinity. An indeterminate amount of time later in the same video, another explosion is visible behind a building in the compound beyond the roadside. The cause of the second explosion is not clear.
But activist Samir al-Shami told Reuters that the explosions were the result of a suicide car bomb followed by a second car bomb on the perimeter of the military base.
"Then the fighters went inside and clashed with security inside, while some of the men started to torch the building," he said.
That tallied with accounts from residents who heard gunfire and smaller blasts after the first explosions.
"The explosions were very loud. They shook the whole city and the windows of our house were shuddering," one resident reached by telephone said.
In an article for Time, Rania Abouzeid cautions that the attacks in Damascus are not a sign that the battle will soon be shifting to the capital from the primary battleground of Aleppo.
Wednesday’s bombing is a psychological boost to the rebels, but what will it translate to on the ground? Is it a precursor to a sustained fight for Damascus? That’s unlikely given that Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its commercial hub, is still being fought over – a situation that has lasted for two months now. There, streets, and street corners, continue to regularly change hands, the to-ing and fro-ing eroding the social and material infrastructure of one of the world’s oldest cities. Aleppo’s battles are very parochial fights, sometimes over a patch of a single street, but they have vast national implications and until a decisive blow is dealt, either to the rebels or the loyalists, it’s unlikely that the overstretched rebels will make a sustained push for the capital.