A car bomb exploded near a Shiite shrine in southern Damascus on September 27, killing 17 people and wounding 14 others in one of the deadliest attacks to hit Syria in over a decade. The car packed with 200 kilos (440 pounds) of explosives blew up near a security checkpoint on a road to Damascus airport in what Interior Minister General Bassam Abdel Majid told state television was “a terrorist act.” All the casualties were civilians, he said. “A counter-terrorist unit is trying to track down the perpetrators... We can’t point the finger at any party.” The rare attack in a country known for its iron-fisted security came during the morning rush-hour in the teeming neighbourhood of Sayeda Zeinab, the state-run SANA news agency said, quoting a Syrian official.
The district is popular among Shiite pilgrims from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq.
Witnesses told state television the bomb could have claimed more victims if it had gone off a day later. “It felt like an earthquake. The force of the explosion threw me out of bed,” said one man who lives nearby. “Thank God this was Saturday. The catastrophe would have been bigger if the attack had taken place on Sunday when schools were open.” Another man said that the blast was heard some 10 km away in the northern suburbs of Duma and Harasta. The attack was condemned by Syria’s ally Russia as well as France, Jordan and Lebanon.