Damascus shelling, blast kill two: state TV


Damascus (AFP)

Shelling and a blast in Syria's capital Damascus killed two people and wounded several others on Wednesday, state television said.

It reported "two killed and 14 wounded in terrorist attacks on Damascus Tower and Maysat Square".

The shellfire struck at the tower in the central Marjeh Square district, while a second blast destroyed a car in the northeast of the city, it said.

State television first reported that the second blast was due to an explosive device inside a vehicle, but then said it may have been caused by rocket fire on the area.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard two large explosions.

State television broadcast images of security forces gathering around the mangled, burnt-out skeleton of a car in Maysat Square.

A few metres away, the metal shell of a small bus also appeared blackened.

Bassam al-Dahni, a government employee, said he had run to the scene after hearing what he described as a "large blast".

Those who arrived found "wounded on the ground and we helped to get them to a hospital", he told AFP, blood visible on his hands.

The body of the car's driver was found burnt through, he said.

The two attacks came as regime forces battle to oust Islamic State group jihadists from the southern districts of the capital, including Yarmuk and the adjacent Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, says IS fighters have previously targeted the capital in recent weeks.

"IS in southern Damascus has fired rockets intermittently on the capital" since April 19 when pro-government forces ramped up their fight against the jihadists, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The Damascus regime set its sights on Yarmuk and nearby areas after retaking the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta east of the capital last month.