Damascus bleeds anew: Twin suicide blasts leave dozens dead as Syria war enters 7th year

DAMASCUS: Two suicide bombings hit the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday, including an attack at a central courthouse that killed at least 32 people, as the war entered its seventh year.
In northern Syria, 14 children were among 21 people killed in an airstrike on Idlib city, a monitor said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, the second wave of deadly attacks in the capital in less than a week, after twin bombings Saturday that killed 74 people.
Wednesday’s first attack saw a suicide bomber rush inside the building and blow himself up when police tried to prevent him from entering the courthouse in the center of Damascus, state media reported. A police source told AFP that 32 people were killed and 100 wounded. “I heard a commotion and looked to my left and I saw a man in a military vest,” a man with a bandage over his eye told state television after the attack.
“He had his hands up and screamed ‘God is greatest’ and then the blast happened,” he added.
State television broadcast images from inside the courthouse, showing blood splattered across the ceiling and smeared across the marble floor of the lobby, with a portrait of President Bashar Assad still intact and hanging above.
The second blast hit a restaurant in the city’s western Rabweh district less than two hours later, and injured 25 people, the police source said. State media said the bomber had ducked into the restaurant after being chased by security services. In the wake of the attacks, AFP correspondents in the city said the streets were deserted, with some roads blocked off by security services.
The bloodshed also continued elsewhere in the country, with 21 people including 14 children killed in an airstrike in Idlib city in northwestern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition representatives and officials from Kazakhstan’s government offered conflicting information as to whether armed opposition groups would end their boycott and attend talks with the Syrian regime in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Onuar Zhainakov as saying that the talks had been extended and some opposition groups had agreed to take part.
“We expect the arrival of representatives from the northern and southern fronts of the armed Syrian opposition,” Zhainakov said, according to the Interfax report.
However, two opposition officials immediately dismissed the report. Mamoun Haj Mousa, from the Suqour Al-Sham Brigade, said there are no plans for factions to attend the talks and another opposition official, Yahya Al-Aridi, simply stated: “Let them say what they wish.:

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