Bombs attached to a bus carrying Syrian army troops exploded in Damascus killing 14. This was followed by army shelling in the rebel-held northwest which resulted in 12 deaths, including four children. The attacks happened on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 20.
The bus bombs exploded in a busy intersection in Damascus where people transfer between buses. The attack’s responsibility was claimed by Qasioun Brigades who said that the bombs were placed under the bus. This was verified by an unnamed Syrian military official. Not much is known about the fringe group.
According to the official, there were two bombs attached to the bus and a third one was defused by army engineers. It is not yet clear whether the dead were all bus passengers.
Attacks, especially on this scale, are almost a rare occurrence nowadays in the war-torn country. The last time a major attack happened was in 2017 when suicide bombers from the ISIS terrorist group blew up a judicial office building and a restaurant killing 60 people.
The shell bombing in the town of Ariha, in Idlib province situated in the northwest of Syria, happened almost an hour after the Damascus bus blast. This area is mostly in the hands of rebels like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a Sunni Islamist militant group, that was once associated with Al Qaeda.
Dozens of shells fell on the town, killing 12, and injuring around 20. Among the dead were four children and a teacher on their way to school, according to UNICEF.
“Today’s violence is yet another reminder that the war in Syria has not come to an end. Civilians, among them many children, keep bearing the brunt of a brutal decade-long conflict,” the agency said, according to AP.
“Every time I remember how busy the street was, with boisterous kids and women in the markets and young men going to work—every time I remember that, I can’t comprehend,” said Wael el-Hussein to AP. El-Hussein is a surgeon based in the area, who spent the day treating the injured.
Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since March 2011, with President Bashar Assad’s forces now in control of much of the country. He has been assisted mainly by Russia and Iran. The rebels, supported by neighboring Turkey, control the northwestern region.
There has not been much violence in recent times owing to a truce in March last year between Russia and Turkey. But there have been attacks on army vehicles coordinated by ISIS militants who operate out of the deserts in central and eastern Syria.
U.N. talks have made headway recently as the government and rebels agreed to the drafting of a new constitution.
The war in Syria has left between 350,000 and 450,000 people dead, till now, and resulted in the displacement of half the country’s 17.5 million population. There are almost five million Syrians who are currently refugees abroad.