Three car bombs exploded in Damascus on Sunday, state media reported, and seven people were killed in one of the blasts, a police officer said, the biggest such attack in the Syrian capital since a series of suicide attacks in March.
One of the suicide bombers blew himself up in Tahrir square in central Damascus after being encircled by the authorities. The police officer at the scene said seven people were killed and 13 wounded in that attack. The other two car bombs were destroyed by the authorities, state media said.
State TV said the casualty toll had been minimised because the security forces had prevented “the terrorists from reaching their targets”, saying they had aimed to target busy areas on the first day back to work after the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Footage broadcast by state TV from Tahrir Square showed roads scattered with debris, several badly damaged cars, and another one that had been turned into a pile of twisted metal.
Footage broadcast another of the blast sites showed what appeared to be the remains of a person and badly damaged vehicles outside a mosque in the Baytara traffic circle near the Old City.
In March, two suicide bomb attacks in Damascus killed several dozen people, most of them at the Palace of Justice courthouse near the Old City. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.
Also in March, a double suicide attack in the capital killed scores of people, most of them Iraqi Shi’ite pilgrims. That attack was claimed by the Tahrir al-Sham alliance of Islamist insurgents, which is spearheaded by a jihadist group formerly known as the Nusra Front.
Syrian government forces, which have defeated rebel fighters in several suburbs of Damascus over the last year, are currently battling insurgents in the Jobar and Ain Tarma areas on the capital’s eastern outskirts.
(Reporting by Kinda Makieh in Damascus and Tom Perry in Beirut; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Nick Macfie and Elaine Hardcastle)