Powerful explosion rocks Damascus, Khatib to head to Rome

Published: Updated:

A powerful explosion shook the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday, residents reported, and state television said it struck the eastern district of Qaboun.

The blast followed by heavy gunfire caused panic in the capital, where a massive car bombing on Thursday near the ruling Baath party headquarters killed at least 53 people.

It was not immediately clear what the target of Monday’s explosion was and The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has monitored the violence in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted nearly two years ago, said there were no immediate details of casualties.

State-run TV reported a “terrorist” explosion at the entrance to the northeastern neighborhood of Qaboun.

Friends of Syria

This comes just as Moaz al-Khatib announced he will be attending the Friends of Syria conference in Rome on Thursday, after the U.S. and the UK urged him to do so.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who’s on a trip to Europe and the Middle East, spoke in a joint press conference with Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Earlier, the National Coalition chief Khatib had said the Syrian opposition would consider participating in the next Friends of Syria meeting after receiving “specific” promises of support from key nations.