An attack on a military bus in Damascus and a bombing shortly afterwards against a rebel-held city in northwestern Syria left at least 27 people dead on Wednesday.
Two bombs that had been planted on the bus exploded as the vehicle passed near a bridge in the center of the capital. Fourteen of the vehicle’s occupants were killed in the attack and at least three were injured, the official SANA news agency said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), an NGO that has a vast network of information sources in the country, all those killed were soldiers.
Hours later, the same organization reported several explosions at the Al Tanf military base, used by the US-led coalition.
“Explosions were heard at the Al Tanf base used by the US-led coalition,” which is fighting the Islamic State, said the OSDH, which did not specify the possible perpetrators.
The UK-based NGO said a “drone attack” caused the explosions and that it is unknown whether there were any injuries or fatalities.
The attack on the bus has been the deadliest in the capital in the last four years, and has yet to be claimed. However, an hour later government forces bombed Idlib province, the last jihadist and rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country.
A military source cited by SANA said that a third explosive device “fell from the bus after the explosion.”
Images released by the Syrian agency showed first responders inspecting the nearly burned-out vehicle, in a generally busy area of central Damascus.
Triggered in 2011 by the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the war in Syria has lessened in intensity in recent years.
“We hadn’t seen such incidents in a long time, we thought this was over,” said Salam, an employee of a local grocery store.
This is the deadliest attack carried out in Damascus since an attack claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) against the Palace of Justice in March 2017, which left some 30 fatalities.
During the conflict, Damascus has not been as hit as other areas of the country, especially since the military and allied militias conquered the last rebel stronghold near the capital in 2018.
About an hour after the attack in Damascus, government forces shelled the rebel stronghold of Idlib, killing 13 people and wounding 26 others, according to the OSDH.
The civilians included four children and a teacher on their way to school, according to a UNICEF statement.
It is one of the bloodiest attacks since a truce took effect in Idlib in March 2020, sponsored by Russia and Turkey, the two main foreign actors in the Syrian conflict.
“At eight in the morning, we woke up to the bombings. The children were terrified and shouting, we did not know what to do or where to go,” Bilal Trissi, a father of two children who lives near the area attacked, told AFP. .
“They have bombed us in our neighborhood and in the market. There are children who have died and people who have lost limbs. We do not know why, what are we guilty of?” He said, desperate.
At the hospital where the victims were transferred, an AFP correspondent saw a man crying next to the remains of a 10-year-old girl.
At the same time, six fighters from the main pro-regime militia, the National Defense Forces, died and seven others were injured on Wednesday during an explosion in an ammunition warehouse in the central Hama province, according to the OSDH. . The circumstances of this incident are unclear.
These attacks call into question the government’s messages indicating that the ten years of war are behind us and stability is guaranteed to start reconstruction and investment projects as soon as possible.
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is struggling to break out of international isolation and had made some progress recently.
Also supported by Iran and allied militias, the army has retaken almost all of Syria’s major cities.
But the country remains fragmented. The Kurds, supported by the United States, control the northeast of the country, while other areas in the north remain under the control of the jihadists and rebels, or Turkish forces from their Syrian backers.
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