Bomb blast hits Damascus, 'terrorist arrested': Report

DAMASCUS (AFP) – A bomb blast hit the capital of war-torn Syria on Sunday (Jan 20) and a “terrorist” was arrested, state media said, in a rare attack in the city that has been largely insulated from violence.

A Britain-based war monitor said a “huge explosion” near a military intelligence office in southern Damascus had left a number of people dead and wounded.

Syrian Arab News Agency said that a “bomb blast” had caused an explosion “without leaving any victims”.

“There is confirmation of reports that a terrorist has been arrested,” it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) told AFP that “the explosion took place near a security branch in the south of the city” and that some people were killed and injured but it could not yet verify the toll.

It was unclear if the blast was caused by a bomb that was planted or a suicide attack, according to the monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside the country. It said that shooting followed the explosion.

Syria is locked in a civil war that has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011 spiralled into full conflict. Damascus has been largely spared the worst of the violence but several bomb attacks have shaken the city.

Another bombing on Sunday killed three people and wounded nine others in the Syrian city of Afrin on the first anniversary of a Turkish offensive on the Kurdish-majority region, the SOHR said.

With military backing from Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and militants, and now control almost two-thirds of the country.

The Syrian regime in May reclaimed an area held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in southern Damascus, cementing total control over the capital for the first time in six years.