Islamic State claims attack on Shiite shrine close to Damascus
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Islamic State claims attack on Shiite shrine close to Damascus

Death toll rises to 20 after twin blasts rip through entrance to Sayeda Zeinab

Syrians look at a burnt out vehicle used in a double bombing attack on June 11, 2016 outside the Sayeda Zeinab shrine, which is revered by Shiites around the world, some ten kilometers south of the center of Damascus, in the latest in repeated deadly strikes on the revered site. (AFP)
Syrians look at a burnt out vehicle used in a double bombing attack on June 11, 2016 outside the Sayeda Zeinab shrine, which is revered by Shiites around the world, some ten kilometers south of the center of Damascus, in the latest in repeated deadly strikes on the revered site. (AFP)

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for a multi-pronged attack near the Syrian capital Damascus on Saturday which killed at least 20 people.

The official SANA news agency said two suicide bombers, one in a car, attacked the entrance to the Sayeda Zeinab shrine, revered by Shiites around the world.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said at least 20 people were killed, including 13 civilians, and more than 30 wounded in the blasts.

SANA gave a toll of at least 12 dead and 55 wounded.

IS claimed the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying it was carried out by three suicide bombers.

The shrine is heavily guarded by pro-government forces but has still been the target of several jihadist attacks, including those claimed by the Islamic State group.

Syrian security forces at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Shi'ite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, visible in the background, near Damascus, Syria in June 2012. (photo credit: /Bassem Tellawi, AP File)
Syrian security forces at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Shi’ite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, visible in the background, near Damascus, Syria in June 2012. (Bassem Tellawi/AP)

Syria’s official Al-Ikhbariya channel showed images from the scene of burned-out cars billowing with plumes of black smoke.

Firefighters battled to extinguish the flames as shop signs lay in the street.

The last attack on Sayeda Zeinab on April 25 killed at least seven and wounded dozens.

A string of IS bombings near the shrine in February left 134 people dead, most of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

And in January, another attack claimed by IS killed 70 people.

Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah cited the threat to Sayeda Zeinab as a principal reason for its intervention in the civil war on the side of President Bashar Assad.

The shrine contains the grave of Zeinab, a venerated granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed, and is known for its glistening golden onion-shaped dome.

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