A car bomb targeting a funeral has killed 27 people in the mainly Druze and Christian suburb of Jaramana on the south-eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.
“The number of people killed in a funeral held for two supporters of (president Bashar al-Assad’s) regime has risen to 27,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Hours earlier, state television had put the toll at 12, adding that another 48 were injured.
The funeral was held for two supporters of Assad who were killed in a bomb attack on Monday, the Britain-based Observatory said.
The force of the blast completely destroyed the facade of one building, while others suffered heavy damage, an AFP photographer reported.
State media blamed rebel fighters for the bombing, which came amid an intensified bombardment by government troops of eastern districts of Damascus that shelter some of the Free Syrian Army’s best organised battalions.
But the opposition Syrian National Council accused Assad’s regime of staging the bombing against its own supporters in a bid to divert attention from the killings of hundreds of people during an army assault last week on a largely Sunni Muslim suburb of the capital.
“The regime wants to cover up for its massacres,” SNC spokesman George Sabra said, alluding to the deaths in the town of Daraya that sparked an international outcry.
“It also wants to punish residents of Jaramana – who are of mixed religious backgrounds – for welcoming people who were displaced from nearby towns,” Mr Sabra said.
“The regime’s fingerprints are clear,” charged Mr Sabra, himself a Christian.
“The regime does not want anyone to welcome refugees from other cities. And it wants to turn the revolution… into a bloody civil war fought along sectarian lines.”
Some 80 per cent of Syrians are Sunni Muslim, while around 10 per cent belong to Assad’s Alawite community, 5 per cent are Christian, 3 per cent Druze and 1 per cent Ismaili.
The opposition draws much of its support from the Sunni majority, who have borne the brunt of the government’s deadly crackdown.
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