BEIRUT: Two car bombs killed at least 34 people in a district of Damascus loyal to President Bashar Al Assad yesterday in the deadliest attack on the Syrian capital in months.
The explosions struck the eastern neighbourhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars.
Once a bastion of security in Assad’s 20-month campaign to crush an uprising against his rule, Damascus has been hit with increasing regularity as the rebels grow bolder.
State media said a bomb also detonated in the southern town of Bosra Al Sham, near Deraa, where the revolt began with peaceful street protests in March 2011. It also said eight “terrorists” were killed near Damascus while they tried to booby-trap a car with a bomb.
Authorities severely limit independent media in Syria and it was not immediately possible to verify reports. The government said 34 people were killed in Damascus but did not give a casualty count for the Bosra Al Sham bombing.
The attacks followed two weeks of military gains by rebels who have stormed and taken army bases across Syria, exposing Assad’s loss of control in northern and eastern regions despite the devastating air power which he has used to bombard opposition strongholds.
A resident of Jaramana said that rebels had been repeatedly forbidden by local Druze elders to operate in the district, which borders the capital’s centre where government offices are located.
“Tension have risen between Druze elders and rebels and now there are 3 or 4 small explosions a week,” she told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Underlining the growing military muscle of the rebels, bolstered by weapons captured during raids on army facilities as well as supplies from abroad, fighters shot down a war plane in northern Syria on Wednesday using an anti-aircraft missile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.