Spate of bombings in Damascus overshadows Astana talks

The Justice Palace in Damascus, (c) AFP

At least 31 people have been killed and dozens injured in two suicide bomb attacks in Damascus on Wednesday.

The first attack occurred at the Palace of Justice court complex in the Hamidiya district of Damascus when a suicide bomber blew himself up. A restaurant on the outskirts of Damascus was targeted later in the day resulting in the injury of at least 20 people, the BBC reported.

According to reports the first attacker, dressed in a military uniform was carrying a gun and a grenade. He was noticed by guards who asked him to hand over the gun and grenade a few meters away from the Justice Palace building, upon which the attacker blew himself up.

The entrance of the Justice Palace after the attack

Justice Minister Najem al-Ahmad said 31 people were killed according to initial investigations.

The second attack targeted a restaurant located in Damascus’s al-Rabwah district. According to the local sources police caught two attackers while a third managed to enter the restaurant and blew himself up. At least 20 people have been reported injured.

The restaurant after attack

A twin bomb attack killed 74 people including Iraqi pilgrims at a Shia cemetery in Damascus five days ago.

The attacks come in the shadow of Astana talks, at which a ceasefire and separation of opposition groups from entities such as the Islamic State (IS) and the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front), considered terrorist groups, are being discussed.

The attack has been claimed by an alliance of jihadist groups known as Tahrir al-Sham, which includes the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Commentators have said the attacks target the derailing of talks.

According to monitoring groups, some 465,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it started almost seven years ago.