x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Jabhat Fatah Al Sham claims Damascus bombings targeting Shiites

The former Al Qaeda affiliate said it was responsible for the roadside bomb that detonated as a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims made its way through the Bab Al Saghir area of the Syrian capital’s Old City, and the suicide bombing that followed shortly after

Syrians inspect the damage to a Damascus car park following twin explosions on March 11, 2017. Sana via AP
Syrians inspect the damage to a Damascus car park following twin explosions on March 11, 2017. Sana via AP

Beirut // Al Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate on Sunday said it was behind twin bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims in the centre of Damascus that killed 74 people.

A statement released by Jabhat Fatah Al Sham said the attack targeted Iranian militias and pro-government defence militias in revenge for Iran’s role in supporting president Bashar Al Assad’s “tyrannical rule”, holding them responsible for “killing and displacing” Syrians.

It called the bombings “a message to Iran and its militias”.

Iran and the Tehran-backed Hizbollah movement of Lebanon are close allies of the Syrian government.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 43 Iraqi pilgrims were killed when a roadside bomb detonated as their bus made its way through the Bab Al Saghir area of the Syrian capital’s Old City and a suicide bomber blew himself up.

The Britain-based monitor said 11 bystanders and 20 members of the pro-government security forces were also killed. Eight children were among the dead.

State television gave a toll of 40 killed and 120 wounded by “two bombs detonated by terrorists”, while Iraq’s foreign ministry said about 40 of its nationals had died.

In January, Fatah Al Sham also claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of Damascus that killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers.

Damascus has been largely spared the violence that has rocked other major cities in Syria’s six-year civil war, but its Shiite shrines have been targeted repeatedly by Sunni extremist groups including ISIL.

* Agence France-Presse