Damascus: A car bomb exploded in a busy market in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital today, killing at least two people and wounding dozens as Muslims went shopping a day before the start of their holy month of Ramadan, activists said.
The blast in Douma came nearly two hours after Russia`s deputy foreign minister called on the United States and Europe to take "serious" steps to combat terrorism during a visit to Damascus, warning that several Middle Eastern countries are threatened.
"Russia will not stand idle toward attempts by terrorist groups to spread terrorism in regional states," Sergei Ryabkov told reporters, apparently referring to the rapid advance of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant across eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
Russia has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad`s main allies since the start of an uprising against him in March 2011. Moscow has used its veto power four times at the UN Security Council to prevent international sanctions on Syria.
Both Russia and Assad`s government have portrayed the civil war in Syria as a struggle against foreign-backed "terrorists," the word Damascus applies to all rebels fighting to end the Assad family`s four-decade reign.
The market blast in Damascus killed at least two people and wounded others who were rushed to nearby makeshift hospitals, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and amateur videos released by activists in the area.
The activists said the market was crowded as many people went shopping a day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and feast in the evenings.
The Observatory said the explosion caused extensive damage. The Observatory and an activist in the nearby suburb of Saqba who goes by the name of Abu Yazan said the Islamic State is believed to be behind the blast, because of a rivalry with other rebel groups in the area.