A devastating bomb explosion near the Sayeda Zeinab mausoleum, Syria's most revered Shiite pilgrimage site, resulted in the death of six people and left over 20 others injured on July 27. The attack occurred just before the annual commemoration of Ashura, a significant event for Shiites, marking the remembrance of the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, in a seventh-century battle.
The interior ministry reported the death toll as six, revising an earlier count of five fatalities, while more than 20 individuals suffered injuries from the blast. The explosion occurred when a motorcycle detonated near a taxi, leading the authorities to classify it as a "terrorist bombing".
A nearby hospital, Al-Sadr, received ten wounded individuals following a car bombing near the shrine. According to state television, the explosion was triggered by a "bomb placed in a taxi by unidentified people".
Eyewitnesses described the horrific scene as a huge blast occurred, prompting people to flee while ambulances and security forces quickly arrived at the area. The incident took place approximately 600 meters from the mausoleum of Sayeda Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and the daughter of Imam Ali, a prominent figure in Shiite Islam's founding.
Security measures around the mausoleum had been tightened in preparation for the 10-day Ashura commemoration, which holds immense significance for Shiite Islam.
Notably, this is not the first time the Sayeda Zeinab mausoleum has been targeted. During Syria's civil war in 2011, the site experienced multiple deadly bombings. Since then, the complex has been defended by Shiite militiamen, primarily from Lebanon and Iraq, as well as by the Syrian army. While the number of attacks has declined in recent years, some security measures had been relaxed.
Sunni Muslim extremists from the Islamic State group (IS) have frequently targeted Shiite shrines, both in Syria and neighboring Iraq. IS previously claimed responsibility for a double suicide attack in February 2016, situated just 400 meters from the Sayeda Zeinab mausoleum, which resulted in the deaths of 134 people, including over 90 civilians.
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