A file picture shows Syrians during a vigil at the Ummayyad Square in Damascus, Syria, on 30 December 2016. EFE-EPA/FILE/YOUSSEF BADAWI

Death toll rises to 6 in attack on Shia pilgrimage site in Syria

Beirut, July 28 (EFE).- An explosion near a Shia Muslim shrine, south of the Syrian capital Damascus, has killed at least six people, as reported by the state-run news agency on Friday.

The explosive device was hidden in a motorcycle and detonated near al-Sudan Street in the al-Sayeda Zainab suburb on Thursday, the eve of the Ashura festival, when Shia Muslims remember the killing of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Hussain.

The suburb is a prominent town for the Shia minority in Syria and houses the tombstone of Hussain’s sister, Sayeda Zainab.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), 23 people were injured in the explosion.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in the United Kingdom, stated that at least eight people, including two foreigners, died in the attack.

The NGO, with a wide network of collaborators on the ground, said the explosive-laden vehicle blew up in front of a hotel near a barracks of the pro-Iranian militias allied with the Syrian government.

Shia Muslims observe Ashura, the 10th day of the Islamic calendar, to commemorate the death of Hussain in the Battle of Karbala, which took place 1,400 years ago.

Thousands of Shia pilgrims visit the Sayeda Zainab shrine on Ashura.

In recent years, attacks in the Syrian capital and prominent neighborhoods of Damascus have declined as government forces regained control of most of the country following years of armed conflict that began in 2011.

This attack was the second explosion in Sayeda Zainab town this week, as two people were injured on Tuesday due to a motorcycle bomb. EFE