Islamic State attack on Shiite shrine in Damascus kills 71

The explosions occurred as representatives of Syria's government and its divided opposition began convening in Geneva for the first UN-mediated peace talks in two years.

By: AFP | Beirut | Updated: February 1, 2016 10:35 am
ISlamic State, Syria, ISIS, Damascus, Syria blasts, Damascus Blasts, Syria Damascus, Syria Damascus blasts, suicide bomber, blasts, terror, Syria Government, Geneva, Syria's Shi'ite shrine, Shi'ite shrine, Shi'ites from Iran, Lebanon, Bomb explosions, United nations, UN, Un peace talks, Prophet Mohammed, World news, international news, syria news, Latest news Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed at least 71 in Sayeda Zeinab, a district of southern Damascus, Syria January 31, 2016. (Reuters)

Bombings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group have killed 71 people and wounded dozens more near a revered Shiite shrine outside the Syrian capital Damascus, a monitor said.

The blasts, which came as the UN’s Syria envoy struggled to convene fresh peace talks in Geneva from which IS is excluded, tore a massive crater in the road, overturning and mangling cars and a bus and shattering windows.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said 71 people were killed in two blasts near the Sayyida Zeinab shrine yesterday, including five children.

The first blast was a suicide car bomb, followed by a second suicide bomber who detonated his explosive belt when a crowd gathered, the monitoring group said.

Syrian state media earlier reported more than 50 people killed and over 100 injured in what it described as three blasts.

Official news agency SANA said the first blast was caused by a car bomb that detonated at a bus station near the shrine, which both Iran and Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah have vowed to defend.

It said two suicide bombers then set off their explosive belts when people gathered at the scene.

An AFP photographer said the explosions damaged the facade of a nearby building, scorching all of its six storeys.

Sayyida Zeinab, south of Damascus, contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and is particularly revered as a pilgrimage site by Shiite Muslims.

It has continued to attract pilgrims from Syria and beyond, particularly Shiites from Iran, Lebanon, and Iraq, throughout Syria’s nearly five-year brutal conflict.

Sunni Muslim extremist groups such as IS consider Shiites to be heretics and have frequently targeted them in attacks.

In the aftermath of yesterday morning’s attack, smoke rose from the twisted carcasses of more than a dozen cars and a bus, as ambulances ferried away the wounded and firefighters worked to put out blazes.

In a statement circulated on social media, IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying two of its members had detonated suicide bombs.

“Two soldiers of the caliphate carried out martyrdom operations in a den of the infidels in the Sayyida Zeinab area, killing nearly 50 and injuring around 120,” it said.

The area around the shrine has been targeted in previous bomb attacks, including in February 2015 when two suicide attacks killed four people and wounded 13 at a checkpoint.

Also that month, a blast ripped through a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims headed to Sayyida Zeinab, killing at least nine people, in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

The area around the shrine is heavily secured with regimecheckpoints set up hundreds of metres (yards) away to prevent vehicles from approaching.

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  1. A
    Abdullah Basheer
    Feb 1, 2016 at 6:53 am
    Islam is religion of peace... There is only peace within Muslims
    1. R
      Feb 1, 2016 at 6:42 pm
      If few suicide bombers can kill all of one sect of the potion that has lived only for one thing - killing - it will be easy to target the left overs then!! Sad to see over a billion people dying for the initials of a God they never saw, sometimes, the normal humans cannot change the focused barbarians, who are keen to eliminate themselves. Sit back, relax and watch the comedy. Of course, sad to see those kids suffering, dying - hope the few who survive this macre, will embrace normal life, leave their religion within 4 walls of their home and lead a normal, joyous (does n't mean sinful) life. Would love to see Saudi Arabia fighting for human rights, equality, respect - until that happens, please eliminate about 100,000 a day of your own people.
      1. C
        Feb 1, 2016 at 2:40 am
        Islam stands for Peace, Prayers and Piety!It has tabooed foeticide, infanticide, suicide, homi-cide and genocide!Verse 52 of Chapter 25 of the Holy Quran defines "Jihade Kabeer"(the great Jihad)as "Striving against the disbelievers with utmost strenuousness with(the messages of of the)Quran only"!Further Verse 143 of Chapter 2 (ibid)declares that an Islamic Society is a "Middle-ordered Society",whose member are not expected to slip down to the level of "Reactionaries" nor shoot-up to the level of terrorists'!How then the so-called Islamic State could claim to be "ISLAMIC"?
        1. A
          Feb 1, 2016 at 5:29 am
          how WONDERFUL ............................. JEWS and AMERICANS and NATO are happy ............... IS should formerly announce "We are friends of whoever is ENEMY of Islam" ............. see how happy they make HIndus in India, Christians in west and Jews in BM ......................... same goes for ad and Hizbollah and Iran etc. ................ all LICK Western shoes and Kick fellow Muslims .........
          1. V
            Feb 1, 2016 at 6:11 am
            This is just the beginning the world leaders in violence wherever they are will end up like this .
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