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Bombings hit courthouse in Syrian capital

Twin bombings in Damascus were the latest in a spate of jihadi attacks in government-controlled territory. They come as rebel negotiators boycotted the latest round of peace talks in Kazahstan.

Two suicide bombings struck the Syrian capital on Wednesday, including one on Damascus' main court building that killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens, state media reported.

Another suicide bombing hit a restaurant in the Rabweh district of Damascus, causing an unknown number of casualties, the official SANA news agency said.

No group claim responsibility for the attacks.

The bombing on the Justice Palace, located in central Damascus, comes five days after twin attacks on a Shiite shrine in Damascus killed scores of pilgrims, mostly from Iraq. In late February, insurgents stormed the security headquarters in Homs before detonating suicide vests, killing some 30 people and a top intelligence official.

Those two attacks were claimed by a jihadist alliance known as the Levant Liberation Committee, which includes Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra front.

The recent high-profile attacks in government-controlled territory suggest al-Qaeda linked militants may be embarking on a new strategy to counter the advances of Assad's forces, backed by Russia and Iran.

Syrian rebels groups have fractured further following a string of battlefield defeats over the past year, including the loss of their east Aleppo stronghold in December.

Meanwhile, Syria's armed opposition boycotted the third round of Russian and Turkish brokered peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana, aimed a securing a ceasefire and providing humanitarian aid to millions of people. Rebel negotiators accuse the government and Russia, Damascus' main backer, of continuing military offensives.

The Astana talks are meant to support parallel UN-mediated peace negotiations in Geneva.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

 

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