An unknown rebel faction launched an enormous bombing attack against a minibus station near the Ba’ath Party headquarters in the Syrian capital city of Damascus today, killing at least 59 people, mostly civilians, and wounding over 200 others.
The attack was one of the most enormous single blasts since the Syrian Civil War began, and officials estimate 1.5 tons of explosives were used in the bombing. The casualties included a number of children at a nearby school, and the first bombing was followed with a second attack at a nearby pedestrian bridge.
Though suicide bombings are nothing new for some of the more extreme of the rebel factions, the ugliness of today’s strike and the angry backlash from Damascus residents prompted the Syrian National Coalition, a key rebel umbrella group, to disavow the bombing and condemn it as “heinous.” No group has claimed responsibility but it seems likely that the al-Nusra Front, endorsed by al-Qaeda, was involved.
The force of the blast reportedly did some damage to the Russian Embassy as well, with officials saying it blew out windows but did not seriously wound anyone at the embassy.
The attack is seen as likely to forestall any potential peace talks in the near future, with the Syrian government seeing public support rise in the wake of the attack. The British Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Syrian President Assad should immediately cede power to the rebels in the wake of the bombing.