Middle East

Syria conflict: Damascus twin bombing kills 40 Iraqis

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Media captionThe BBC's Richard Conway reports from the site of the attack in Damascus

A twin bomb attack in Syria's capital, Damascus, has killed 40 Iraqis and wounded 120, Iraq's government says.

The attack was near the Bab al-Saghir cemetery, which houses Shia mausoleums, with those targeted said to be pilgrims arriving by bus.

Sunni militants often target Shias but attacks in the capital are uncommon.

A nationwide truce brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran took effect on 30 December after talks in Kazakhstan, but sporadic attacks continue.

There have been two rounds of talks, with another planned next week.

Damascus is mostly under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but rebel groups are present in outlying districts of the city.

It is not yet clear who was behind the latest attack, which Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal called a "criminal terrorist operation".

Images showed blood stains on the ground near several damaged buses.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Those targeted were pilgrims arriving at the site by bus

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a roadside bomb blew up as a bus passed and a suicide bomber also detonated explosives.

A double suicide bombing in the Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed at least 10 people.

Former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham said it was behind that attack.

The group is excluded from the peace talks and its mainly north-western bases have been regularly targeted by the Syrian army and its Russian allies.

So-called Islamic State is another Sunni extremist group that controls significant areas of Syria. Its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul is currently under attack from Iraqi government forces and their allies.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and 11 million others displaced since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011.