Bombs kill 34 in Damascus

Damage from Damascus bomb blast.

BEIRUT — Two car bombs exploded in an attack that killed at least 34 people today in a district of the Syrian capital loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The explosions struck the eastern neighbourhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through nearby shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars.

Car bombs have shaken Damascus – once a bastion of security in Assad’s 20-month campaign to crush an uprising against his rule – with growing regularity but today’s attacks were the deadliest in the capital for several months.

Authorities severely limit independent media in Syria and it was not immediately possible to verify reports. The government said 34 people were killed.

Military gains

The bombs followed two weeks of military gains by rebels who have stormed and taken army bases across Syria, exposing Assad’s loss of control in northern and eastern regions despite the devastating air power which he has used to bombard opposition strongholds.

Underlining the growing military muscle of the rebels, bolstered by weapons captured during raids on army facilities as well as supplies from abroad, fighters shot down a war plane in the northern province of Aleppo today using an anti-aircraft missile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Opposition group subsequently posted a video clip on the Internet that showed a man in a green jumpsuit being carried through fields. He was bleeding heavily from his head and appeared unconscious.

“This is the pilot that attacked the houses of civilians,” said a voice off camera.

Another video showed a blackened and smoldering tail fin of what activists said was a MiG-23 warplane. (Reuters)

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