DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Three people were killed and at least 35 wounded in rocket attacks on Damascus on Thursday, state news agency SANA said, in what appeared to be the second heavy bombardment by the insurgent militant group called Islam Army in less than two weeks.
Shells thought to have been fired from the east of the capital could be heard exploding in the city, a witness said.
Local media reported that Islam Army, which is based in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the city, was behind the attack on several residential areas.
SANA said only that “infidel terrorists” carried out the bombardment. It showed a photograph of a blackened car with its trunk blown off. State television said three missiles hit areas around the historical Umayyad Mosque, one of the largest in the world and located in the capital’s Old City.
The militant group’s leader said on Tuesday that his group would target the Syrian capital, which is under government control.
Insurgents and the Syrian military are battling for control of eastern areas close to the capital, and the air force has carried out regular bombardments there, including on the districts of Ghouta and Jobar.
On Thursday the air force struck areas northeast of the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
There have been several attacks on Damascus itself since the start of the year.
The Militant group struck with at least 40 rockets on January 25, killing seven people, the Observatory said, in one of the heaviest attacks on the city in over a year.
On Sunday, a bomb claimed by Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front tore apart a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite Muslim pilgrims in Damascus.
A witness in Damascus on Thursday heard more than 30 bombardments in quick succession. Local radio Sham FM said the projectiles had hit at least five areas of the capital. People posted images on social media said to show plumes of smoke rising above the city.
A message on a Twitter account thought to belong to the militant group’s leader Zahran Alloush said the attack was a “taste” of what the Syrian military had done to Ghouta.
He described Damascus as a “military zone” in a statement earlier this week and said his group would respond to air force strikes.