On Thursday, a massive car bomb exploded close to the Damascus office of Syria’s ruling Ba’ath party, and killed dozens of people while underscoring the erosion of security inside the well-guarded capital.
According to an activist group, more civilians and members of the military were also killed in blasts in other parts of Damascus, as mortars dropped close to an army headquarters.
According to activists, in the city of Deraa, located further south where the uprising began almost two-years ago, 18 Syrians were killed in a government air strike.
The deadliest strike went off at a check-point on Thawra street, a main road in the Mayraa region. Syria’s state news agency showed graphic images of charred cars and bodies, some still on fire, with thick smoke rising above the road.
According to agency reports, at least 53 people were killed by the explosion, and over 200 people were wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, based out of the U.K. put the death toll at 61 for blast on Thawra street and 83 for all of Thursday’s Damascus car bombs. Both the Observatory, and the state media reported that large numbers of the casualties were civilians.
A statement from Syrian National Coalition, the main group for the political opposition, criticized the regime while condemning the attack for “causing terror and instability in the country.”
The responsibility for the recent blast continues to go unclaimed. Some prior car bomb suicide attacks in Syria were claimed by the extremist rebel group Jabhat al Nasra, although opposition activists commonly accuse the regime of being behind them.