Nine killed in Syria suicide blasts

At least nine people have been killed and nearly 100 others wounded after two suicide bombers blew up cars rigged with explosives near a military compound and a hotel in north-western Syria, state media said.

The blasts, which also tore two large craters in the ground, were the latest setback for troubled United Nations efforts to end Syria's crisis.

A team of UN observers is already on the ground to salvage a ceasefire that went into effect on April 12 but has been widely ignored by both sides. UN officials have singled out the regime as the main aggressor in violations of the truce.

The powerful bombs went off in the city of Idlib, an opposition stronghold that government troops recaptured in a military offensive earlier this year.

The state-run news agency SANA said security forces and civilians were among those killed, while state TV said that many of the nearly 100 wounded were civilians. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist network, put the death toll at more than 20 people.

Syria's pro-government al-Ekhbariya TV aired footage of the aftermath from the blasts, showing smashed cars and twisted debris.

The force of the explosions tore the facade off one multi-storey building, shattered windows in the area and sent debris flying. Pro-government websites said five buildings were damaged.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. State media blamed "armed terrorists", a term it uses for rebels trying to topple the government. Activists claimed the regime was behind the bombings to discredit the opposition.

The bombers detonated their explosives near a military compound and near the city's Carlton Hotel, SANA said. A local activist said the explosions went off within five minutes of each other after daybreak on Monday.

Earlier, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at the central bank and a police patrol in the capital Damascus, wounding four officers and causing light damage to the bank, SANA said.