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Syrian leaders and Arab media are blaming Israel and the United States for a car bomb in Damascus.

Saturday’s explosion, which is being called a “terrorist act,” killed 17 civilians, according to reports. It took place near a Syrian intelligence service building. An unnamed high-ranking military officer was killed in the attack, according to reports.

“Israel is at the top of the list of those who benefit from this type of action,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Saturday in New York at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

A columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Dustur blamed the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

A Syrian political analyst told the French press agency that the attack was an attempt to halt improving relations between Damascus and Western capitals.

“The latest positive political developments in Syria’s relations, notably with France, strengthen Damascus’ international position and this displeases Israel,” Razzouk Ghawi said.

Syria has been the scene of several assassinations in recent months, including the shooting of Hisham el-Badni, secretary to Hamas’ political leader Khaled Mashaal earlier this month, and the July shooting of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Suleiman, a senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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