Suicide attacks mark six years of Syrian war

  • 16/03/2017
Syrian security personnel inspect blood stains after a suicide blast inside the Palace of Justice (Reuters)
Syrian security personnel inspect blood stains after a suicide blast inside the Palace of Justice (Reuters)

Two suicide bomb attacks have killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens more in Damascus, state media reports, in the second spate of such bombings in the Syrian capital in five days.

The first suicide bomber on Wednesday targeted the Palace of Justice, the main courthouse in central Damascus near the Old City. Justice Minister Najem al-Ahmad told reporters the initial death toll was 31, mostly civilians.

The second suicide blast struck a restaurant in the al-Rabweh area of Damascus to the west of the first attack causing several casualties, state media reported.

The courthouse bomber set off his explosive device hit early in the afternoon as the police tried to search him and stop him from entering the building, state television cited the Damascus police chief as saying.

Syrian state television broadcast footage from inside the courthouse showing blood splattered on a floor littered with papers, a shoe and broken tiles and stones. Images from a hospital showed a man in a suit on a stretcher with blood on his clothes.

The explosion hit the courthouse "at a time when the area is crowded" with lawyers, judges and civilians, harming a large number of people, Ahmed al-Sayyid, a senior state legal official told state-run al-Ikhbariya TV.

He later added that 45 people had been wounded. No further details were immediately available.

On Saturday scores of people, most of them Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims, were killed in a double suicide attack in Damascus claimed by an alliance of jihadist groups known as Tahrir al-Sham.

In late February an attack in central Homs killed dozens of people with coordinated shootings and suicide bombs that targeted two security headquarters and led to the death of a senior official.

That attack was also claimed by Tahrir al-Sham, which includes the Fateh al-Sham group that was formerly known as the Nusra Front until it formally broke ties with al-Qaeda last year.

Seventh year of war

The Syrian war started six years ago with protests across the country against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad and his family's 40-year rule.

Mr Assad responded to Syria's protests with unconstrained violence, turning the uprising into a war to the death.

Death toll

About half a million people are estimated to have been killed since the conflict began. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said there are about 465,000 people killed and missing in the war. Among those killed are more than 96,000 civilians.

At least 652 children were killed last year, up by 20 per cent from 2015, UNICEF said. The figures - collected since 2014 - only represent formally verified casualties, meaning the true toll could be higher.

Refugees and displaced

There are currently almost five million registered Syrian refugees. Most of them are living in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

About 6.3 million Syrians are internally displaced.

Altogether half of the Syrian population, which stood at 22 million before the conflict, have fled their homes.

In Europe, a little under 1 million Syrians have applied for asylum, with Germany and Sweden receiving two-thirds of applications.

Aid challenges

About 13.5 million people remain in need of aid inside the country. However, aid agencies often struggle to reach people in need.

Around 5 million people remain trapped in areas of active fighting, including nearly one million trapped in besieged areas inside Syria with almost no aid.


At least 814 medical personnel were killed between March 2011 and February 2017. These figures may be underestimated due to difficulties in gathering evidence.

2016 was the most dangerous year for health workers in Syria, with multiple attacks including killings, imprisonment, abduction and torture.

There were almost 200 attacks on health centres last year alone.


One-third of the schools in Syria have been destroyed or damaged by over 4000 attacks on schools and education facilities.

As a result, 1.75 million children and young people do not attend classes.

Reuters / Newshub.