Syria: Rebel Group Claims Damascus Bombings

Syria: Rebel Group Claims Damascus Bombings

Syria: Rebel Group Claims Damascus Bombings

Iraqi Shiites often visit shrines in Syria, as do Iranians and other Shiites from Asia. The Observatory said the death toll is likely higher because dozens were wounded.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that at least 40 Iraqis were killed and 120 wounded.

There were conflicting reports about what caused the explosions.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the blasts in Damascus on Saturday happened in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shi'ite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world.

The director general of the capital's Al-Mujtahed hospital told AFP earlier there were at least 28 people dead and 45 wounded. One source said two explosive devices targeted the buses carrying the pilgrims near the cemetery; another reported a roadside bomb blast followed by a suicide bombing against the police and rescue workers.

Lebanon's al-Manar TV quoted Syrian officials saying 40 were killed in twin suicide attacks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but there are a number of militant groups in Syria who target Shiites, including the Islamic State and the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida.

Sunni terror groups such as ISIS have attacked these Shiite shrines.

And local media reports that at least 46 people were killed in the bombings.

The group is excluded from the peace talks and its mainly north-western bases have been regularly targeted by the Syrian army and its Russian allies.

There have been periodic bombings in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

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