BEIRUT — Syrian insurgents struck at high-profile targets in the capital region Thursday for the third time this week, demonstrating their increasing effectiveness and reach in the conflict.
The latest was a double bombing — one bomb detonated in the parking garage of the Palace of Justice in downtown Damascus, according to Syrian state television, and the other at a city police station, according to local residents. The day before, an attack destroyed another pro-government television station, and late Monday the opposition Free Syrian Army struck the barracks of the elite Republican Guard, next to the palace of President Bashar Assad.
These assaults followed a wave of high-level military defections from Assad’s forces, and a surprise visit by the former head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, who crossed into Syria and toured what he called ‘‘liberated territory’’ in Idlib, a city near the southern Turkish border.
While none of these developments were militarily decisive, they have helped build a public perception that the opposition, while still clearly underdogs fighting a massive military machine, was finally making some headway.
Even Assad, who has repeatedly belittled the Syrian insurgency as an insignificant and unpopular movement led by what he calls foreign-backed terrorists, has tacitly acknowledged the tenacity of his opponents, telling the Cabinet on Tuesday that the government was engaged in a war.
The Syrian opposition has been far less successful off the battlefield at creating any impression that it has created organized momentum. A bewildering array of groups claim to speak for the movement, including public figures who still cooperate with the Assad government and members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Abul Baset Sayda, the current head of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella organization of expatriate dissidents, was chosen from the Kurdish minority in Syria as a compromise figure whom everyone could agree on.
All of Syria’s nongovernment opposition forces are expected to come together at a meeting convened by the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday. That such a gathering is happening for the first time in the 16-month uprising is telling.
‘‘There’s consensus on the essentials,’’ said Fayez Sara, a prominent opposition figure who has remained in Syria. ‘‘The regime has to be removed.’’
Beyond that, however, differences are rife. Sara said he had not yet decided if he would attend the Cairo conference.
On the ground in Syria, fighters have been exultant about their recent successes, however Pyrrhic they appear to be.
Moaz, an activist from Damascus, in an audio interview via Skype, said he recently visited Hama in central Syria and was stunned to see the entire city under the complete control of the Free Syrian Army.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was no presence of government forces or regime people,’’ he said.
There were also, however, no residents left in the city.
Many of the rebels’ victories so far have been at best qualified. The blasts in Damascus on Thursday wounded only a few people, according to Syrian authorities. The attack on the television station Wednesday disabled its broadcasts for less than a day, and while seven guards and media workers were reported killed, the deaths also brought international and US condemnation for an attack on journalists.