A suicide car bomb rocked Syria's capital Sunday, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens of others, according to Syrian state TV. Lebanon's al-Manar TV, which is close to the Syrian government, and a Syrian activist group have reported that at least 19 people were killed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has since tweeted that the death toll continues to rise.
The attack happened before the morning commute on the first work day after a major Muslim holiday.
"This is the largest bombing to hit Damascus in about three months, and it came when life was starting to return to normal. People were returning to work and school after the Eid al-Fitr holiday," said Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim.
The Interior Ministry said the attack could have been much worse, but two out of three of the explosives-laden vehicles were intercepted at checkpoints. One made it into Damascus' city center and the driver detonated the explosive device near Tahreer Square. The Syrian Minister of Local Administration, Hussein Makhlouf, said the number of casualties were minimized because security forces had managed to keep the suicide bombers from reaching their intended targets.
Photos from the scene show scorched and mangled vehicles as well as damaged buildings.
Attacks in Damascus have been relatively rare throughout the country's six-year civil war because it is also the seat of power for President Bashar Assad. Pro-government forces have engaged in heavy fighting in Damascus' suburbs throughout the war, but have been able to keep rebel groups out of the city's center. Recently, Syrian troops and allied forces have been working to drive rebels out of of Ain Terma and Jobar, which have been under rebel control since 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.