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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Bomb Blast Hits Busy Damascus Market

by Edward Yeranian June 28, 2014

A powerful car bomb blast in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma killed over a dozen people, wounding dozens of others, according to Arab language media. Opposition activists are accusing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of being behind the bombing.

Amateur video showed rescue workers carrying a bleeding child, hurt by the car bomb blast, to a makeshift ambulance. Bodies were visible amid chunks of rubble, as fire burned from at least one vehicle. Young men shouted and screamed as they searched for victims.

Firefighters doused the blazing wreckage as thick black smoke covered the area. Witnesses say the explosion hit a popular market as crowds were milling through it. The exact number of casualties could not be immediately confirmed but Arab satellite channels reported that at least a dozen people were killed.

The explosion took place in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, in the northeastern region of the capital known is the Eastern Ghouta. Syrian government media did not immediately report the blast.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA that opposition activists believe the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was behind the blast, because of recent tensions between the group and other rebel groups that control the area.

The explosion came as rebel fighters fought ISIL militants in the Syrian border town of al-Bukamel. Al-Arabiya TV reported that fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra Front had succeeded by midday Saturday in chasing the ISIL militants from the town. VOA could not independently confirm the claim.

Amateur video showed a rebel commander from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front pledging loyalty to ISIL. Opposition sources in the region say the defection of some rebel fighters to ISIL set off the conflict several days ago. ISIL militants reportedly control the town of Qaim on the Iraqi side of the border facing al-Bukamel.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says that ISIL militants are frequently accused of having ties to both Iran and the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, because they frequently attack opposition fighters, rather than Syrian government forces:

'ISIL has always had the motivation to attack the opposition. They were never engaged in any military conflict with the Syrian regime forces. If you take the nature of their activities, the only beneficiaries from ISIL's activities are the Iranian regime and the Syrian regime.'

Khashan argues that the brutal nature of ISIL is indicative of what he believes is their overriding ideology. He says that ISIL militants believe the world is "on the verge of a new millenial order, with the battle between good and evil" reaching a crescendo. "In order for good to emerge out of evil," he says, "they think that hell will have to break loose, everywhere."

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