34 die as two suicide bombers strike Damascus
TWO suicide bombers detonated their explosives-packed vehicles near a cluster of commercial buildings in a suburb of Damascus, killing at least 34 people and covering the street with pools of blood and debris.
The latest carnage to hit an area populated by religious minorities who support President Bashar Assad further raises concerns of a growing Islamic militant element among the forces seeking to topple him.
In the country's north, rebels claimed to have shot down a Syrian air force fighter jet, providing further evidence of their growing effectiveness and improved military capabilities. It was not immediately clear how the MiG-23 was downed, although activists and the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said it was most likely brought down by a missile.
The morning rush-hour bombings in the suburb of Jaramana, just a few kilometres southeast of Damascus, were the latest to hit the overwhelmingly pro-regime town. The twin blasts appeared designed to maximise damage and casualties and bore the hallmarks of radical Muslim groups fighting alongside other rebel units in Syria.
Witnesses said the second explosion went off after people rushed in to help those injured from the first blast, a tactic often used by al-Qa'ida in Iraq and elsewhere.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qa-ida-inspired extremist group that has become one of Syria's most potent and organised rebel groups, has claimed numerous suicide bombings in the past. Yesterday's bombs went off in a parking lot near commercial buildings as groups of labourers and employees were arriving for work, killing 34 and injuring 83 people.