DAMASCUS - Syria was hit by the third lethal car bombing of the weekend on Sunday as UN teams readied for a government-led humanitarian mission and to work to launch a monitoring operation to end a year of bloodshed.

State media, charging that such attacks aim to sabotage efforts to find a political solution to Syria’s crisis, said the explosion killed two people, including a woman, and wounded 30 others near residential buildings and a post office.

State television showed heavy damage to apartment buildings and private cars, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that the attack targeted political security offices, leaving three dead and more than 25 wounded.

Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria and its commercial hub, was the target of car bombings on February 10 that killed 28 people.

On Saturday, twin car bombings killed 27 people and wounded 140 others in the heart of Syria’s capital, mostly civilians, the interior ministry said, blaming “terrorists” for the attacks near police and air force headquarters.

The capital and Aleppo are both seen as having high levels of support for President Bashar al-Assad.

“Yesterday’s explosions were carried out by terrorists supported by foreign powers which finance and arm them,” charged Al-Baath newspaper, mouthpiece of Assad’s ruling party of the same name.

“The two attacks... aim to disrupt Annan’s mission and to foil international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis,” it said, referring to UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Ath-Thawra, another official daily, pointed the finger at Qatar and Saudi Arabia which have called for rebels fighting the Assad regime to be armed.

The opposition Syrian National Council accused the regime of staging the weekend’s deadly car-bomb attacks to terrorise its own citizens and for Syria to be viewed as under threat from Al-Qaeda.

A rally and prayers were held on Sunday at the site of the biggest explosion, in the Al-Qasaa district that is home to many members of Syria’s Christian minority.

State television, which said victims were being buried on Sunday, has repeatedly broadcast how the Al-Qasaa blast totally gutted the facade of a multi-storey building, wrecked homes and spattered pavements with blood. Technical experts from the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, meanwhile, were to take part in a mission to assess the humanitarian impact of the regime’s crackdown on protests since March 2011.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who held talks in Damascus this month, said the experts would at the weekend join the assessment mission to Daraa, Homs, Hama, Tartus, Latakia, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and rural zones around Damascus.

There was no official word on Sunday on the timing of the mission.

The United Nations estimates more than 30,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring states and another 200,000 have been displaced within the country by the past 12 months of deadly violence in Syria.

Activists say the year-long conflict has cost more than 9,100 lives.

International Committee of the Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger is to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday on the “extremely difficult” humanitarian situation in Syria’s protest centres.

“A daily ceasefire of at least two hours is imperative to allow the evacuation of the wounded,” he said ahead of the mission to Moscow, an ally of Damascus which is seen as having influence on Syria’s leadership.

Former UN chief Annan, who met Assad in Damascus last weekend, has ordered a team of experts to Syria to discuss a possible ceasefire and international monitoring mission, his spokesman said.

Annan’s team will head to Damascus from New York and Geneva on Monday.

In violence on the ground, Atareb town in the Aleppo region was shelled for the 33rd straight day, said Mohammed al-Halabi, contacted by AFP from the Lebanese capital on Skype.

Raids by security forces killed three civilians, including a 14-year-old boy, in the mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib in the country’s northwest, said the Syrian Observatory, a Britain-based monitoring group.

The Observatory said four soldiers were killed in clashes with rebels in the same region bordering Turkey, while security forces killed a civilian in Daraa, where deserters blew up a bridge near Khorbet al-Ghazaleh to cut off a supply route.

It also reported that security forces beat up and detained opposition figure Mohammed Sayyed Rassas, a National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change leader, which is normally tolerated, and several youths at a Damascus protest.

On Saturday, two “terrorists” were killed when a booby-trapped car they were driving blew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in a suburb of Damascus, the state news agency reported.