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Car bomb outside mosque rocks Syrian town; at least 40 dead

September 27, 2013|By Nabih Bulos and Raja Abdulrahim

BEIRUT -- More than 40 people were killed Friday when a car bomb exploded outside a Sunni Muslim mosque in a Syrian town near the Lebanese border, opposition activists said.

The bomb went off in the town of Rankous, north of the capital Damascus, just as worshipers were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, according to anti-government activists. Internet footage from the immediate aftermath showed charred bodies amid burning vehicles and a damaged mosque.

Funeral processions and burials held soon after the bombing were shelled from nearby Syrian government bases, said Omar Abdulrahman, an activist with the Revolution Leadership Council, an opposition and humanitarian group based in Damascus and its suburbs.

“Rankous has been calm, which is why this explosion is so surprising,” he said.

Abdulrahman said the names of more than 40 victims had been documented and the toll was expected to rise.

Rankous has been under opposition control for more than a year but is located in the mountainous region of Qalamoun where the government has many military bases.

The town and area around it have been relatively peaceful for months as fighting in Syria's ongoing civil war has focused on other areas of Qalamoun. In recent weeks, rebels have launched offensives to seize military bases and open supply routes between Homs and Damascus provinces.


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