Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Scores of Casualties in Blasts Near Damascus Shrine, Thousands of Civilians Remain Trapped in Manbij | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55352418

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather on June 10, 2016 on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij held by ISIS. AFP

ISIS militants claimed responsibility for a double bomb attack near the Syrian capital on Saturday killed at least eight people and wounded over a dozen others in the latest assault to hit the predominantly Shi’ite area in recent months, state TV and an opposition activist group said.

Syrian State TV said the blasts in the Sayyeda Zeinab area just south of Damascus killed eight people and wounded 13 others. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded in the two explosions.

The Sayyeda Zeinab suburb is home to a shrine by the same name, one of the most renowned in Shi’ite Islam. The heavily guarded shrine receives thousands of Shi’ite pilgrims each year.

Sayyeda Zeinab has been a frequent target of suicide and car bombings in Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year. Some of them have been claimed by ISIS.

Meanwhile, the Observatory said that tens of thousands of civilians are trapped inside the northern Syrian city of Manbij after U.S.-backed fighters surrounded the ISIS stronghold.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) encircled Manbij on Friday, severing ISIS’s principal supply route between Turkey and its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

The Observatory said warplanes from a U.S.-led coalition were conducting heavy bombing raids on Manbij.

“Tens of thousands of civilians who are still there can’t leave as all the routes out of the city are cut,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse.

The U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition backing the SDF, Brett McGurk, said the surrounding of Manbij had severed an important route for ISIS fighters.

ISIS “terrorists now completely surrounded with no way out,” he tweeted.

The city has been held by ISIS since 2014 and the Observatory said that thousands of inhabitants had recently fled Manbij as air strikes intensified.