By Patrick J. McDonnell
Los Angeles Times
June 14, 2012, 4:43 a.m.
BEIRUT--A bomb-laden car driven by a suicide attacker exploded Thursday near a major Shiite shrine outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, injuring 14 people and damaging part of the shrine, according to Syrian state media and news agency reports.
It was the latest in a series of car bombs that have killed scores of Syrians and elevated tensions in Syria’s two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, where the bombings have been the most dramatic manifestation of the 15-month insurrection. Authorities have blamed Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants from Syria and other nations, including neighboring Iraq and Jordan, for previous suicide bombings.
The Associated Press reported that it was unclear if the intended target of Thursday’s strike was a nearby police station or the golden-domed Sayyida Zainab shrine, one of Shiite Islam’s holiest and most magnificent sites and a favored destination of Shiite pilgrims, especially Iranians. The shrine is said to be the burial place of a revered grand-daughter of the prophet Mohammed.
The blast Thursday shattered shrine windows, knocked down chandeliers and ceiling fans, and cracked mosaic walls inside the religious site, AP reported.