Blast heard near pro-Assad militia base in Damascus

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 27, 2012 6:14 AM
Blast heard near pro-Assad militia base in Damascus

AMMAN (Reuters) - An explosion was heard on Friday in the Syrian capital Damascus near a government facility housing militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, residents and activists said.

Ambulances rushed to the al-Sinaa district, a residential neighborhood in the south of Damascus, where the explosion was reported, near a government bus garage.

"The target is not clear. It may have been a car bomb or a roadside bomb attack on a car passing near the garage," an anti-Assad activist who gave his name as Moaz, said from the city.

"Shabbiha meet there every Friday, but it is not clear that the garage was the target," he said, referring to the pro-Assad "shabbiha" militiamen who witnesses say have been using state buildings around the country as bases for themselves.

The garage was used as a meeting point for militiamen entrusted with preventing anti-Assad demonstrations in the capital, Moaz said.

Armed rebels, who have been operating increasingly close to the capital, have begun targeting senior security officers and shabbiha militiamen in recent weeks, opposition sources said.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Owais and Erika Solomon; Editing by Alistair Lyon)