Deadly twin suicide attack hits Damascus police station

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Updated 02 October 2017
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Deadly twin suicide attack hits Damascus police station

DAMASCUS: A double suicide bomb attack hit a police station in Syria’s capital Damascus on Monday, state media said, with a monitor saying at least 11 people were killed.
Damascus has been largely insulated from the worst of the violence during the country’s brutal six-year war, but several bomb attacks have shaken the city.
Syria’s interior ministry said two suicide bombers had blown themselves up at the police station in the southern district of Midan, leading to the “deaths of a number of civilians and a number of policemen.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said at least 11 people were killed in the attack, among them six police officers.
The monitor also reported that a car bomb had been detonated during the attack, but state media made no mention of a third blast.
Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar told reporters that one of the attackers had managed to enter the police station and reach the first floor of the building.
State television showed images of damage from inside the building, with a black police uniform shirt covered in dust lying in the rubble of partially collapsed walls.
The entire front of one room on the first floor had been blown out by the explosion, and inside what remained, twisted bits of metal were scattered across the rubble.
Policemen carried one body away from the scene wrapped inside a white tarpaulin.
Manal, a 28-year-old teacher living in Midan, said she heard at least two blasts on Monday afternoon.
“I was coming back from work when I heard the sound of an explosion, it was around 2:30 pm, I didn’t know what it was, and then there was another explosion a few minutes later and buildings shook,” she told AFP.
“Afterwards I heard gunfire, which usually happens to get people to move out of the way and clear the road so ambulances can get through to retrieve the injured,” she added.
Damascus has also been rocked by occasional bomb blasts throughout the Syrian conflict, including previous attacks on Midan, a middle-class residential and shopping district.
In December 2016, three police officers were wounded when a seven-year-old girl walked into the neighborhood’s police station wearing an explosive belt that was remotely detonated.
Rebel groups have been gradually expelled from territory in the capital they once held, though they maintain a presence in a handful of positions, including the Jobar neighborhood.
They also hold territory in the Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital, and have regularly launched rockets into the city.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since its conflict began with protests that were met with a harsh government crackdown.
A wide array of international players have been drawn in on both sides, with the government relying on allies including Iran, Russia and the powerful Hezbollah militia from neighboring Lebanon.
Ten Hezbollah members were killed on Monday in a suspected drone strike in the Badiya desert region in the central province of Homs, the Observatory reported, revising an earlier toll of at least eight.
The unidentified strike came near the town of Sukhna in a region where Syria’s government and allied fighters are battling the Daesh jihadist group.


Syrian army drops barrel bombs in southwest — rights monitor

Updated 7 min 15 sec ago
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Syrian army drops barrel bombs in southwest — rights monitor

  • President Bashar Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army began ramping up an assault there this week
  • The Syrian government has denied using barrel bombs, containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed

BEIRUT: A war monitor reported Syrian military helicopters dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of the southwest on Friday for the first time in a year, escalating an assault that has so far included artillery but only limited use of air power.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Syrian government helicopters had dropped more than 12 barrel bombs on rebel-held territory northeast of Daraa, causing damage but no deaths.

President Bashar Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army began ramping up an assault there this week.

The attack has been concentrated on the towns of Al-Harak and Busra Al-Harir, which would bisect a finger of rebel ground jutting northwards into land held by the Syrian government.

A big offensive risks a wider escalation, as the United States has warned Damascus it will respond to breaches of a “de-escalation” brokered by Washington and Assad’s Russian allies last year to contain the war in the southwest.

The region is also of strategic concern to Israel, which has struck Iran-backed militia allied to the army.

Those militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have played an important role in Assad’s seven-year war against the rebels, including since Russia entered the conflict in 2015.

The Russian ambassador to Lebanon was quoted on Friday in the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar as saying the Syrian military was recovering the southwest with help from Moscow.

“We say that the Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state,” it quoted him as saying in an interview.

“Israel has no justification to carry out any action that obstructs the fight against terrorism,” he added.

The Syrian government has denied using barrel bombs, containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed. However, United Nations investigators have extensively documented its use of them during the conflict.