Middle East

At least 60 killed in Damascus suburb bombings, DAESH claims responsibility

The Sayyida Zeinab mosque, which contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammed, is revered as a pilgrimage site by Shiite Muslims.

Two bomb blasts have struck the outskirts of Syria’s capital, Damascus. At least 60 people were killed in twin blasts in the mainly Shi’ite neighbourhood, Syria’s Interior Ministry reported. DAESH terrorist group has taken responsibility for the attacks.

According to the ministry, “more than 60 people were killed and dozens were injured.” Police say that the death toll is set to rise because “some of those injured are in a critical condition.”

According to the television station of Lebanon’s militant Shiite Hezbollah group, the attacks took place in the Sayeda Zeinab district, where Syria’s major Shiite shrine is located.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari has stated that Sunday’s blasts in Damascus confirm a link between the opposition and terrorism, Reuters reported.

Syrian state television reported that “two terrorist blasts, one of them a car bomb, followed by a suicide bomber,” took place in the Sayyida Zeinab area.

It said there was “information about deaths and injuries,” but gave no further details.

The Sayyida Zeinab mosque, which contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed, is revered as a pilgrimage site by Shiite Muslims. The site has been targeted before, including in February 2015, when a blast ripped through a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims headed to Sayyida Zeinab, killing at least nine people, in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, AFP reported.

Also last year in February, two suicide attacks killed four people and wounded 13 at a checkpoint near the shrine.

State television showed footage of burning buildings and wrecked cars in the heavily populated area in the south of the city.

The explosions took place as representatives of Syria’s government and the opposition began gathering in Geneva for the first UN-mediated peace talks in two years. The United Nations says the challenge could be six months of talks, seeking a ceasefire and finding a political settlement to a war that has killed over 250,000 people and left over 1 million injured.

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