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Syria: At least 16 soldiers killed in blast in pro-Assad Damascus suburb

State TV reports large ‘terrorist’ explosion in predominantly Christian, Druze neighborhood

Illustrative photo of smoke billowing amid buildings in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Shaam News Network via AP Video)
Illustrative photo of smoke billowing amid buildings in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Shaam News Network via AP Video)

BEIRUT — Syria’s state-run news agency said an explosion has occurred in a suburb of the capital Damascus, causing casualties. SANA says Saturday’s “terrorist” blast in Jaramana killed and wounded a number of people.

According to AFP, at least 16 Syrian soldiers were killed in the car explosion, perpetrated by a suicide bomber from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, and the subsequent exchange of fire between regime forces and the Islamist rebels.

Rebels have previously targeted Jaramana, a Christian and Druze area mostly loyal to President Bashar Assad, with bombings and mortar rounds.

Assad has drawn support from Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and members of his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The rebel movement is dominated by Sunni Muslims, who are a majority in Syria.

At least 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the country’s civil war, now in its third year.

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