Syrian capital struck again; 15 die in suicide blast
DAMASCUS — A suicide car bomber struck on Monday in the financial heart of Syria's capital, killing at least 15 people, damaging the nearby central bank and incinerating cars and trees in the neighborhood.
The attack was the latest in a recent series of bombings to hit Damascus in the civil war, slowly closing in on President Bashar Assad's base of power in the capital. Rebel fighters have chipped away at the regime's hold in northern and eastern Syria, as well as making significant gains in the south, helped in part by an influx of foreign-funded weapons.
The blast was adjacent Sabaa Bahrat Square — near the state-run Syrian Investment Agency, the Syrian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry — and dealt a symbolic blow to the nation's ailing economy.
In the early days of the 2-year-old uprising, the grandiose roundabout was home to huge pro-regime demonstrations with a gigantic poster of Assad hung over the central bank headquarters.
The area was a very-different scene on Monday.
State TV showed several cars on fire and thick black smoke billowing above the tree-lined street. At least six bodies were sprawled on the pavement. Paramedics carried a young woman on a stretcher, her face bloodied and her white shirt stained red. A man placed a T-shirt over a victim whose face was blown off.
Firefighters struggled to extinguish flames that engulfed the two buildings, as well as a row of cars near the roundabout. State media put the toll at 15 dead and 146 wounded.
Witnesses said the suicide attacker tried to ram the vehicle into the investment agency but was stopped by guards, forcing the bomber to detonate the explosives at the gate.
Visiting a mosque across the street that was damaged in the blast, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi described the attack as “the work of cowards” and vowed the army would crush all armed groups fighting the government. Shattered glass and torn curtains littered the mosque's red carpet.
Some people wandering through the twisted metal, body parts and rubble on the street and directed their anger at countries supporting the rebellion.
“I want to say to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that the Syrian people stand firm behind their leadership, and they are steadfast and will never kneel down, and we will emerge victorious,” said engineer Saeed Halabi, 54, calling the attack a “terrorist and cowardly act.”
The U.N. estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the civil war.
The Syrian regime denies there is a popular uprising and refers to the rebels as “terrorists” and “mercenaries,” allegedly backed by foreign powers trying to destabilize the country.
The last large explosion in central Damascus took place on March 21, when a suicide bomber at a mosque killed 42 people, including a top Sunni Muslim preacher who was an outspoken supporter of Assad.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Israelis get eyes in sky for Jerusalem patrols
- U.S. forces help rescue hostages in Yemen
- U.N. argues against redactions in torture report
- Ex-host of radio’s ‘Q’ charged with sex assault
- Russian fliers have to get out and push
- 2-month Hong Kong occupation near end
- Islamic State got up to $45M in ransom payments
- Islamic State drive for Kobani blunted
- U.S. proposes extending talks with Iran as pessimism about nuclear deal grows
- Teen girls’ suicide bombs rip into Nigerian village marketplace
- Afghan forces may resume night raids