emfizz.com March 23, 2017

Al-Qaeda-linked group claims deadly Damascus attack

21 March 2017, 12:58 | Terri Saunders

The bombs reportedly exploded near a cemetery

The bombs reportedly exploded near a cemetery

An al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility Sunday for twin blasts near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 40 people as a suspected airstrike by the US -led coalition killed at least 17 in northern Syria, activists said. State television said bombs had been planted in the Syrian capital's Bab al-Saghir cemetery, which includes a shrine where Shi'ites venerate some of the early figures of their faith.

There has been no claim of responsibility. The former al Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front claimed the attack and said it was targeted toward Russian military workers involved with the Syrian army.

Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad has been supported in the country's war by Shia militias from countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. In January, Syria's Kafr Sousa district faced a twin suicide bombing attack that killed 10 people, of whom eight were soldiers.

The Iraqi statement blamed the attack on "takfiri groups", referring to Sunni Muslim extremist organisations that declare those who do not follow their ideology to be "kuffar", or infidels.

Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake Mosul - the last IS-held city in Iraq - in October.

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Saturday's attack also wounded over a hundred, majority Iraqis, according to Syrian and Iraqi officials.

The monitor, said "300 families of foreign fighters of IS have left the city of Raqa since dawn Friday to take refuge in the province of Deir Ezzor to the east and Hama to the west".

In the interview with Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV broadcast on Saturday, Mr Assad said another IS stronghold, Deir el-Zour, could be targeted in parallel.

The deadliest bombing around Damascus targeted the Sayyida Zeinab shrine in February 2016, costing 134 lives, in an attack claimed by IS.

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