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Two Syrian men hug each other as they prepare to leave the government-besieged Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2016. A Syrian negotiator says 38 buses carrying nearly 2,000 people, including 700 gunmen, have been evacuated from a government-besieged Damascus suburb following a deal to empty it of rebels. (AP Photo)

Twin explosions near religious shrines in Damascus leave at least 40 dead


At least forty people are dead after two explosions erupted near religious shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus, the Associated Press reported. Syria State TV footage from the scene showed bloody streets and damaged buses in a parking lot where the explosions went off near Bab al-Saghir cemetery.

The cemetery is considered one of the capital's most ancient and where many prominent religious figures are buried.

There were a few inconsistencies in reporting on what caused the explosions. State news agency SANA said 33 were killed and more than one hundred wounded in the blasts caused by bombs placed near the cemetery.

Lebanon's al-Manar TV quoted Syrian officials saying 40 were killed while Arab TW Al-Mayadeen reported that 40 were killed despite the tight security encompassing the area.

Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition group with activists on the ground, said at least 44 were killed in the explosions that targeted buses near the cemetery. The Observatory said the death toll is likely to rise because dozens were wounded.

Last year, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a similar attack near one of the most revered Shiite shrine in the capital.

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