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Roadside bombs hit military bus in Syrian capital, kill 14

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A Syrian firefighter extinguishes a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, 20 Oct. 2021.
A Syrian firefighter extinguishes a burned bus at the site of a deadly explosion, in Damascus, Syria, 20 Oct. 2021.   -   Copyright  Syrian official news agency SANA via AP

Fourteen people have been killed after two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying Syrian troops in Damascus.

The blast occurred during the morning rush hour early on Wednesday, a military official said.

The attack was the deadliest in Damascus in years, and a rare event since government forces captured suburbs formerly held by insurgents in Syria’s decade-long conflict.

Syrian state TV showed footage of the charred bus in central Damascus, saying the blasts occurred while people were heading to work and school, injuring several others.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place at a main bus transfer point under a bridge, where vehicles converge and head out to different neighbourhoods of the capital.

“It is a cowardly act,” Damascus police commander Maj. Gen. Hussein Jumaa told state TV, adding that a police force had cordoned off the area immediately and made sure there were no more bombs. He urged people to inform authorities about any suspicious object they see.

More than an hour after the blast occurred, workers cleared the scene of the explosion, and the burnt-out bus was removed.

President Bashar Assad's forces now control much of Syria after military help from his allies Russia and Iran helped tip the balance of power in his favour.

Separately, rescue workers reported that 10 people were killed, including four children and a woman, in government shelling of a town in Idlib, the last rebel enclave in the country's northwest.

"Today's violence is yet another reminder that the war in Syria has not come to an end," UNICEF said in a statement.

"Civilians, among them many children, keep bearing the brunt of a brutal decade-long conflict. Attacks on civilians including children are a violation of international humanitarian law."

Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011 has left more than 350,000 people dead and displaced half the country’s population, including five million who are refugees abroad.

In August, Syria’s state media said a short circuit triggered an explosion in the gas tank of a bus carrying soldiers, killing one and wounding three.