A military official stated that two bombs attached to a bus carrying Syrian soldiers exploded in Damascus on Wednesday morning rush hour. The attack was one of the most deadly in the capital for many years, resulting in the deaths of fourteen people.
Although the conflict between the Syrian government and insurgents has been ongoing for a decade in some parts of Syria, bombings in Damascus are now extremely rare after President Bashar Assad’s troops drove opposition fighters out of the capital’s suburbs.
The explosions also left many people injured. They occurred at a busy intersection near the main bus transfer point, where commuters as well as schoolchildren often congregate. Syrian state TV broadcast footage showing smoke rising from the bus after the explosions. Soldiers hosed it down and people flocked to the bridge nearby to see the action.
Although no one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack there are many insurgent or jihadist groups active in Syria seeking to overthrow Assad.
Rescue workers also reported that 10 people died in government shelling in a town in the country’s northwest. This was in addition to four children and one woman. Mark Cutts, U.N. Deputy Region Humanitarian Coordinator, described the “shocking” reports of shelling at a school and near a market as students headed to class.
According to UNICEF (the U.N. children’s agency), in addition to the deaths of the four children, their teacher also lost her life.
“Today’s violence in Syria is another reminder that the war in Syria is not over. The agency stated that civilians, including many children, continue to bear the brunt of the conflict over a decade.
This attack was the worst since the truce in northwest Syria in March 2020, which was negotiated in part by Russia and Turkey — both allies of the opposition government and Syrian government. The truce has been broken repeatedly and government forces have often vowed to seize territories that are still under their control.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (an opposition war monitor), six pro-government fighters were killed in an explosion at an arms storage facility in Hama.
Despite fighting continuing in the northwest, Assad’s forces have taken control of large parts of Syria. He has received military support from Russia and Iran to help tip the balance in his favor. U.S. troops and Turkish troops are currently deployed in a portion of the country’s northern regions.
Recent attacks like Wednesday’s in Damascus have been uncommon. In 2017, suicide bombers attacked a building housing the judiciary and a restaurant. Nearly 60 people were killed. These attacks were claimed by militants of Islamic State group. Although the extremist group has lost territory in Syria since 2019, it still poses a threat to sleeper cells that are hiding in Syria’s vast desert.
Initial reports by state media described the Damascus attack in Damascus as a roadside bombing. Later, a unnamed Syrian military officer stated that bombs had been attached to the vehicle’s exterior. According to the official, a third bomb was also dropped from the bus but was later dismantled by the troops. The government is not unusual in releasing information through state media using anonymous sources. It wasn’t clear whether all of the victims were passengers on buses.
Wednesday’s northwest shelling killed Ariha in Idlib, a town that was once associated with al-Qaida.
According to the Syrian Civil Defense (also known as White Helmets), in addition to the 10 deaths, 20 others were injured when dozens upon dozens of shells struck the town. Rescuers stated that they were still looking for survivors in the wreckage.
The conflict in Syria began in March 2011. Between 350,000 and 450,000 people have been killed. Half of the country’s population has been displaced, with 5 million refugees living abroad.
Human Rights Watch, based in New York, called for countries hosting Syrian refugees to cease forcing them to return home to war-torn Syria on Wednesday. According to the rights group, while active hostilities have declined in recent years but the government of Syria continues to abuse citizens who forced them to flee the country in the first place, they continue to use the same violence against them.
HRW reported that it had documented 21 cases in which people were held and arbitrarily detained, 13 cases where torture was used, and three cases where kidnappers were involved. There were also five extrajudicial killings, 17 enforced disappearedances, and one instance of sexual violence between 65 relatives or refugees.
Nadia Hardman, HRW refugee rights researcher, said that the harrowing accounts about torture, enforced disappearance and other abuses that Syrian refugees suffered should be clear to see that Syria is not safe for return.