Daesh claims twin bombings near Shia shrine

Published January 31st, 2016 - 02:02 GMT

The death toll from the suicide bomb attacks has risen to 45 people killed and 110 wounded in Damascus on Sunday, according to reports by the Syrian state media.

The Sana news agency confimed three separate blasts hit the Sayeda Zeinab district in the south of the Syrian capital, where a large Shia shrine is located.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the bombings, according to Amaq, a news agency that supports the group. It said two operations "hit the most important stronghold of Shia militias in Damascus".

The Sana governmental news agency announced that the blasts were caused by a car bomb and two suicide bombers. State television footage showed burning buildings and car wreckage in the neighbourhood.

The densely populated area in the southern part of the city is pilgrimage destination for Shias from Iran, Lebanon and other parts of the Muslim world.

The area surrounding the Sayeda Zeinab shrine was subjected to heavy clashes in the early stages of the war but has since been secured by the Syrian regime and Shia militias led by Hezbollah, which has sealed the area off by building roadblocks around it.

The shrine contains the grave of the daughter of Ali ibn Abi Taleb, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed whom Shias consider the rightful successor to the prophet. The dispute over the rightful successor to the prophet is the source of the major Sunni-Shia schism in Islam.

The explosions occurred as representatives of the Syrian regime and its divided opposition met in Geneva for the first U.N.-mediated peace talks in two years.

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