A car bomb explosion killed at least 40 people, including at least 7 children, and wounded dozens more near a mosque in the Damascus province town of Suq Wadi Barada on Friday, sources said.
The town is under rebel control and ringed by troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“At least three of the dead were children,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
State news agency SANA also reported the blast, and blamed “terrorists,” the term the Assad regime uses for forces fighting to oust it.
“The car exploded while the terrorists were packing it with explosives near the Osama Bin Zeid mosque. Terrorists and civilians were killed,” said the agency.
“Two bodies have arrived at the Moassat hospital, including a seven-year-old child’s. There are also 30 wounded people, most of them critically,” it added.
But anti-regime activists blamed loyalists for the blast.
Amateur video shot after the explosion showed clouds of smoke rising above a burning car, while cries of men and women could be heard amid the chaos that followed the blast.
The footage also showed people carrying away casualties of the explosion.
Car bombings have plagued Syria in recent months, killing scores across the country.
Elsewhere, at least 24 rebels were killed in an army ambush in Otaybeh, east of Damascus, said the Observatory.
SANA said however that 40 rebels were killed.
In Daraa, south of Damascus, another 23 rebels were killed, said the Observatory.
Nineteen of them died during an assault against an army base, and another four were killed in fighting at a loyalist checkpoint.
Syria’s 31-month conflict has killed more than 115,000 people, according to the Observatory.