News / Middle East

Bomb Blast Hits Busy Damascus Market

Civil defence members try to put out a fire after what activists claim was a car explosion in a market in central Douma in the eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus June 28, 2014
Civil defence members try to put out a fire after what activists claim was a car explosion in a market in central Douma in the eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus June 28, 2014
Edward Yeranian

A car bomb blew up in a rebel-held Damascus suburb Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding several others.

Witnesses and activists say the blast hit a busy market in Douma.

No one has claimed responsibility, but opposition activists are accusing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of being behind the bombing. The al-Qaida offshoot, which has also seized large parts of northern Iraq and is threatening to overrun Baghdad, has a rivalry with several other rebel groups in the Syrian capital fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Amateur video at the scene shows rescue workers carrying a bleeding child to a makeshift ambulance; bodies are visible amid chunks of rubble as fire burns from at least one vehicle. Young men scream as they search for victims while firefighters douse the blazing wreckage as thick black smoke covers the area.

Witnesses say the explosion hit the popular market in the Eastern Ghouta region of the capital as crowds milled about. The exact number of casualties could not be immediately confirmed but Arab satellite channels reported that at least a dozen people were killed.

Syrian government media did not immediately report the blast.

Rival militant groups

Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA that opposition activists believe ISIL militants are behind the blast because of recent tensions between the group and other rebel groups controlling the area.

The explosion struck as rebel fighters fight ISIL militants in the Syrian border town of al-Bukamel. Al-Arabiya TV reported that fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra Front had succeeded by midday Saturday in chasing the ISIL militants from the town, a claim VOA could not independently confirm.

Amateur video showed a rebel commander from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front pledging loyalty to ISIL. Opposition sources in the region say the defection of some rebel fighters to ISIL set off the conflict several days ago. ISIL militants reportedly control the town of Qaim on the Iraqi side of the border facing al-Bukamel.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says that ISIL militants are frequently accused of having ties to both Iran and the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, because they frequently attack opposition fighters rather than Syrian government forces.

"ISIL has always had the motivation to attack the opposition," he said. "They were never engaged in any military conflict with the Syrian regime forces. If you take the nature of their activities, the only beneficiaries from ISIL's activities are the Iranian regime and the Syrian regime."

Khashan argues that the brutal nature of ISIL is indicative of what he believes is their overriding ideology, explaining that that ISIL militants believe the world is “on the verge of a new millennial order, with the battle between good and evil” reaching a crescendo.

“In order for good to emerge out of evil,” he says, “they think that hell will have to break loose everywhere.”

US moves to fund moderates

The White House has asked Congress for $500 million to arm and train the moderate Syrian opposition battling ISIL and other extremists.

Also Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Jeddah for what the State Department calls positive and warm talks about the crises in Syria and Iraq with Saudi King Abdullah.

A State Department official said the king told Kerry the Saudis are taking steps to address the ISIL threat. The official gave no details citing security reasons.

Kerry spent much of this past week in the Middle East encouraging regional leaders to tackle the Islamist militant threat.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid