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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs