A double bomb attack targeting Shia pilgrims in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has killed at least 46 Iraqis and wounded 120 more who were going to pray at a nearby shrine, the Iraqi foreign ministry said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which the Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV station said had been carried out by two suicide bombers.
Footage broadcast by Syrian state TV showed two badly damaged buses with their windows blown out. The area was splattered with blood and shoes were scattered on the ground.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been supported in the country’s war by Shia militias from countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
The attack took place at a bus station where the pilgrims had been brought to visit the nearby Bab al-Saghir cemetery, named after one of the seven gates of the Old City of Damascus.
The second blast went off some ten minutes after the first, injuring civil defence workers who had gathered to tend to the casualties, the Damascus correspondent for al-Manar told the station by phone.
The pilgrims were due to pray at the cemetery after visiting the Sayeda Zeinab shrine just outside Damascus, he said.
Sayeda Zeinab – the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad – is venerated by Shias and her shrine is a site of mass pilgrimage for Shias from across the world.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the “heinous and shameful” Saturday terrorist attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus, which resulted in fatalities among Shia pilgrims.
“Indiscriminate assassinations, carnage and spilling the blood of innocent people, including women and children, are the last resort of the desperate and miserable terrorists who have lost their control more than ever following their recurrent and disgraceful defeats in various fields,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.
“Terrorists and their overt and covert supports know well that they are on the threshold of more failures and on the verge of ruin and undoubtedly full collapse,” he added.
At least 46 people, most of them Iraqis, were killed in two bomb explosions near the Bab al-Saghir cemetery in the Bab Masala area of the Syrian capital on Saturday, in one of the bloodiest attacks in Damacus.