Twin Blasts Kill 40 Near Religious Sites in Damascus

Iraqis formed the majority of the people killed in the double bomb attack said Lebanon’s al-Manar TV.

Twin explosions near religious shrines frequented by Shiite pilgrims in the Syrian capital of Damascus killed at least 40 people on Saturday, Arab media and activists reported.

Syria State TV aired footage from the scene showing blood-soaked streets and several damaged buses in a parking lot, where the explosions apparently went off near Bab al-Saghir cemetery. The cemetery is one of the capital's most ancient and is where several prominent religious figures are buried.

There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosions. State news agency SANA said 33 were killed in the explosion and more than a hundred wounded in the blasts caused by bombs placed near the cemetery.

Lebanon's al-Manar TV quoted Syrian officials saying 40 were killed in twin suicide attacks. Iraqis formed the majority of the people killed in the double bomb attack said al-Manar.

Arab TV Al-Mayadeen said at least 40 were killed even though the area was under tight security.

Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group with activists on the ground, said at least 44 were killed in the explosions that targeted buses arriving near the cemetery. The Observatory said the death toll is likely higher because dozens were wounded.

A similar attack in the capital targeted one of the most revered Shiite shrines in the capital last year and was claimed by militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

(With inputs from Reuters)