Scores killed in Da­m­as­cus car blasts since March

Busy ar­eas hit again as peo­ple re­turn to work af­ter Eid ul-Fitr hol­i­day

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

THREE car bombs ex­ploded in Da­m­as­cus yes­ter­day, state me­dia said, killing at least seven peo­ple in the first sui­cide bomb­ings in the Syr­ian cap­i­tal since ji­hadists at­tacked in March.

A po­lice of­fi­cer at the scene of one of the blasts put the death toll there at seven with 13 more peo­ple wounded. The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a UK-based or­gan­i­sa­tion that re­ports on the war, said 21 peo­ple had been killed.

The se­cu­rity forces prevented the mil­i­tants from reach­ing their tar­gets which would have led to more deaths, of­fi­cials told state TV, say­ing the bombers had aimed to hit busy ar­eas on the first day back to work af­ter the Eid ul-Fitr hol­i­day.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity. Da­m­as­cus was hit by two sep­a­rate, mul­ti­ple sui­cide bomb at­tacks in March, one of them claimed by Is­lamic State and the other by the Is­lamist in­sur­gent al­liance Tahrir al-Sham.

Da­m­as­cus has en­joyed rel­a­tive se­cu­rity in re­cent years even as the six-year-long civil war raged on.

The ca­su­al­ties in yes­ter­day’s at­tack came when one of the bombers set off his de­vice af­ter be­ing en­cir­cled near the Old City district of Bab Touma. The other two car bombs were de­stroyed by the au­thor­i­ties, state me­dia said.

Da­m­as­cus po­lice chief Mo­hamad Kheir Is­mail, told al-Ikhbariya TV sta­tion that the cars had been spot­ted on a high­way and pur­sued. He said they had wanted to cause a large ca­su­alty toll but failed.

Footage broad­cast by state TV from the blast that caused the fa­tal­i­ties near the Old City showed roads scat­tered with de­bris, sev­eral badly dam­aged cars, and an­other one turned into a pile of twisted metal.

Footage from an­other of the blast sites showed the re­mains of a per­son. It also showed badly dam­aged ve­hi­cles out­side a mosque in the Bay­tara traf­fic cir­cle near the Old City. On March 15, two sui­cide bomb at­tacks in Da­m­as­cus killed sev­eral dozen peo­ple, most of them at the Palace of Jus­tice court near the Old City. Is­lamic State claimed that at­tack.

On March 11, a dou­ble sui­cide at­tack in the cap­i­tal killed scores of peo­ple, most of them Iraqi Shia pil­grims. That at­tack was claimed by the Tahrir al-Sham al­liance of Is­lamist in­sur­gents, spear­headed by ji­hadis formerly known as the Nusra Front. Syr­ian govern­ment forces de­feated rebels in sev­eral Da­m­as­cus sub­urbs the past year, but are now bat­tling in­sur­gents on the cap­i­tal’s eastern out­skirts.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Dam­aged cars at one of the blast sites in Da­m­as­cus.

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