Islamic State suicide bombing kills nine police officers in Syrian capital

By Fred Lambert  |  Feb. 9, 2016 at 1:09 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least nine people at a police club in the Syrian capital on Tuesday.

The attack occurred in the Masaken Barzeh district in northeastern Damascus. The BBC, quoting activists, reported the dead were police officers and at least 20 other people were injured in the blast, which also damaged a nearby vegetable market.

Syria's state news agency, SANA -- which reported the attack killed three civilians and injured another 14 -- quoted Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi as saying terrorists carried out the "cowardly" attack in response to recent battlefield victories by the Syrian military.

Government troops have pushed back against rebel positions across the country after Russia began conducting airstrikes on behalf of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in September. Most recently, pro-Assad troops cut off supply lines linking Turkey to the rebel-held city of Aleppo, north of Damascus.

IS militants took credit for a double suicide bombing at a Shia shrine south of Damascus last month. At least 71 people were killed at the Sayyida Zeinab shrine as opposition and government delegates met in Geneva for United Nations-sponsored peace talks.

At the time, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the attacks were "clearly aimed to disrupt the attempts to start a political process."

The Geneva talks -- which moderators hoped would lead to a cease-fire in Syria's five-year conflict -- were suspended last week amid a lack of progress after the first five days. Both sides blamed each other for the suspension.

U.N. officials hope to restart the talks by at least Feb. 25.

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