Two massive explosions have hit the Syrian capital Damascus, striking near the army and air force command headquarters.

The explosions happened just before 7am (5am Irish time) near the landmark Omayyad square.

Syria's state-run news agency SANA said a fire broke out in the area after the twin blasts.

Iranian Press TV reported that one of its reporters in the city was killed in the blasts.

The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for twin bombings and said that it had killed dozens of army officials in the attacks.

However, Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoubi said that the damage inflicted was material and no military officials were killed.

Mr Zoubi said: "Everything is normal. There was a terrorist act, perhaps near a significant location, yes, this is true, but they failed as usual to achieve their goals."

The explosions shattered the windows of nearby buildings, including the facade of the Dama Rose hotel that overlooks the area.

Black smoke rose high into the air and ambulances were rushed to the site as police sealed off the area to traffic and journalists.

Witnesses said the explosions were followed by heavy gunfire, suggesting security forces clashed with gunmen in the high security area.