West Asia

Syria: Deadly twin bus blasts rock Damascus

Published : October 21, 2021 12:33 IST

Security forces inspect the site of an explosion in central Damascus. Photo: FIRAS MAKDESI/REUTERS

Two bombs have exploded on a bus carrying troops in Damascus.

Twin blasts in the Syrian capital of Damascus have killed at least 14 people and wounded three others, state media reported early on October 20. Two bombs are said to have exploded after being planted on a bus carrying soldiers. Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said the explosives were detonated as the bus passed through President Bridge in the capital. An army engineering unit defused a third device, Syrian state television reported.

The director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups online, said later on October 20 that a militant group called Qasioun Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack, but this has yet to be confirmed by officials. The Qasioun Brigade has been known to carry out sporadic attacks against Syrian government targets.

Rare incident

Officials have called the explosions a "terrorist" attack. Bombings in Damascus have become very rare since President Bashar Assad's forces drove opposition fighters from the region in 2018. It is the deadliest attack in the capital since a bombing claimed by the "Islamic State" (IS) group at the Justice Palace in March 2017, which killed at least 30 people.

Local media said the bombs went off during busy hours when people were heading to work and school. Several such attacks have taken place on army vehicles in eastern Syria this year. IS militants — who continue to be active in the area — are suspected to be behind those attacks.

Deadly shelling in rebel-held area

In other violence in Syria on October 20, 10 people were reportedly killed when shelling by the Syrian army struck the rebel-held town of Ariha in the northwestern region of Idlib. The opposition-linked and Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets struck a busy area at the time children were heading to school. It said three children were among those killed in the attack.

Syria's conflict, which the government has been claiming is over, began in March 2011. Since then, between 350,000 and 450,000 people have been killed. Half the country's population has also been displaced, including 5 million to other countries.

tj,es/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)