Syrian capital rocked by suicide blasts that leave at least 8 dead
At least eight people have been killed and 12 others injured in a series of car bomb blasts in the Syrian capital '¨Damascus.
State media said a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives after being surrounded by security forces, and two other car bombs were intercepted before entering the city, suggesting those blasts were controlled detonations.
Damascus governor Bashr al-Sabban said two attackers were stopped before rush hour at security checkpoints on the airport road at the entrance to the city, where forces “dealt with them”.
He said the attackers were heading to the city centre where they hoped to cause maximum damage.
Minister of local administration Hussein Makhlouf said the response marked a “major success in foiling a plot” to cause mass casualties.
Syrian state TV reported the casualty toll, without saying whether those killed and injured were security forces or civilians.
The attack came on the first full working day after the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Such attacks have been relatively rare in Damascus, the seat of power for president Bashar Assad, who made a series of public appearances last week in a show of increased confidence after more than six years of battling a rebellion.
Pro-government forces have engaged in heavy fighting in Damascus’ suburbs during the war but have largely kept the rebels out of the city centre.
In recent days, Syrian troops and allied forces have been fighting to drive the rebels out of the eastern suburbs of Ain Terma and Jobar, areas controlled by insurgents since the start of the conflict.
Footage on state TV from the scene of one explosion, along the road to the airport, showed at least two scorched vehicles. The closed-off street was littered with debris, while security men patrolled the area.
Footage from near Tahreer Square in central Damascus showed the facade of one building badly damaged, and mangled vehicles parked in a small roundabout.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, also reported the three explosions. It put the death toll at 12, including three attackers.
The attacks came days before Russian-sponsored talks are to resume in the Kazakh capital Astana, where earlier this year the two sides agreed to a ceasefire that has been repeatedly violated.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war, which began with anti-government protests in 2011.
The UN’s refugee agency says that since the conflict began about 5.5 million people have left the country and another 6.3m have been internally displaced.
Meanwhile, at least one person has died and a number of people were wounded after a blaze broke out at a camp for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The fire took hold at the camp near Qab Elias town in the Bekaa Valley in the country’s east. Footage from the scene showed widespread devastation.
The UN refugee agency said that the camp had housed 102 families.
Lebanon has about one million registered Syrian refugees, but some experts believe the number is closer to 1.5m.
Many Syrians, displaced by the years of intense fighting in their own country, live in ramshackle camps dotted around Lebanon.
The UNHCR’s Dana Sleiman said it is thought the fire was caused by a cooking stove, but added “we are waiting to confirm it”.
The Lebanese Red Cross said that 700 refugees were evacuated from the camp as the flames took hold.