BEIRUT: A car bomb explosion killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens more near a mosque in the Damascus province town of Suq Wadi Barada yesterday, a monitor said.
The town is under rebel control and ringed by troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar Al Assad, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“At least three of the dead were children,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
State news agency Sana also reported the blast, and blamed “terrorists,” the term the Assad regime uses for forces fighting to oust it. “The car exploded while the terrorists were packing it with explosives near the Osama Bin Zeid mosque. Terrorists and civilians were killed,” said the agency. “Two bodies have arrived at the Moassat hospital, including a seven-year-old child’s,” it added.
But anti-regime activists blamed loyalists for the blast.
Amateur video shot after the explosion showed clouds of smoke rising above a burning car, while cries of men and women could be heard amid the chaos that followed the blast. The footage also showed people carrying away casualties of the explosion.
Car bombings have plagued Syria in recent months, killing scores across the country.
Elsewhere, at least 24 rebels were killed in an army ambush in Otaybeh, east of Damascus, said the Observatory. Sana said however that 40 rebels were killed.
Syria’s 31-month conflict has killed more than 115,000 people, according to the Observatory.
The war has destroyed livelihoods and collapsed the economy, leaving more than half the country’s population in poverty, according to a report commissioned by UN agencies this month.
Some 115,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the war broke out in 2011, and the report warned that the economic devastation wrought by the conflict could be felt for years to come. “More than half the population now live in poverty, with 7.9 million people becoming poor since the beginning of the crisis, of whom 4.4 million now live in extreme poverty,” the report said.