Explosion in Yadouda after Friday prayers ignites nearby oil tanker, causing large fireball at mosque in Deraa province
A car bomb has exploded outside a mosque in southern Syria, killing dozens of people and filling clinics and hospitals with the wounded, anti-government activists have said.
The explosion in Yadouda, as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers, charred nearby vehicles and damaged the white-domed mosque, according to video images posted by activists who are fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
The motive for the blast could not immediately be determined and activists provided varying death tolls ranging from 29 to 43. State-run TV confirmed the bombing but said only three people were killed.
Car bombs have frequently been used by Islamic extremists both against the government and against moderate rivals in the Sunni-led opposition movement. Government forces also have been known to use explosive-packed vehicles and the two sides frequently trade blame in attacks targeting mosques.
An activist in the nearby region of Quneitra, Jamal al-Golani, said the car bomb killed at least 29 people, of which 18 were identified. He gave the Associated Press a list of the names of the identified men who were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a wide network of local activists to track violence in the country, said 32 people were killed, including a child and 10 rebels.
Another activist in Daraa, Ahmad al-Masalmeh, gave a death toll of 43. He said the car bomb blew up next to a tanker truck filled with diesel causing a large fire and burning “some bodies beyond recognition”. The mosque is known as Ammar bin Yasser, although some people refer to it as al-Baraa bin Thabet, al-Masalmeh said.
Clinics in the village and nearby areas were full of wounded people and there were calls over loudspeakers for residents to donate blood. Al-Masalmeh added that some of the wounded were taken across the border to Jordan for treatment. “Hospitals are overwhelmed with the wounded,” he man said via Skype.
Videos posted by activists online showed several charred vehicles outside the damaged mosque with a white dome. The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other reports of the events.
Earlier on Friday, the United Nations paused the evacuation of civilians from the embattled Syrian city of Homs, a senior UN official said, while the government screened military-age men who had left the area.
Meanwhile near Lebanon, Syrian forces and rebels clashed over the strategic town of Yabroud, causing hundreds of people to flee over the border.
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