DAMASCUS, Syria — A car bomb exploded Thursday near Syria's ruling party headquarters in Damascus, killing at least 53 people and scattering mangled bodies among the blazing wreckage in one of the bloodiest days in the capital since the uprising began almost two years ago.
Elsewhere in the city, two other bombs struck intelligence offices, killing 22, and mortar rounds hit the army's central command, activists said.
Recent rebel advances in the Damascus suburbs, combined with the bombings and three straight days of mortar attacks, mark the most sustained challenge of the civil war for control of the seat of President Bashar Assad's power.
Syrian state media said the car bombing near the Baath Party headquarters and the Russian Embassy was a suicide attack that killed 53 civilians and wounded more than 200, with children among the casualties. Anti-regime activists put the death toll at 61, which would make it the deadliest Damascus bombing of the revolt.
The violence has shattered the sense of normalcy that the Syrian regime has desperately tried to maintain in Damascus, a city that has largely been insulated from the bloodshed and destruction that has left other urban centers in ruins.
The rebels launched an offensive on Damascus in July following a stunning bombing on a high-level government crisis meeting that killed four top regime officials, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defense minister. Following that attack, rebel groups that had established footholds in the suburbs pushed in, battling government forces for more than a week before being routed and swept out.
- Elder L. Tom Perry's cancer terminal, 'has...
- The top 10 highest-paid female CEOs
- The 50 hardest-working cities in America,...
- Feds release sage grouse conservation plans...
- South Africa shaken by FIFA corruption probe
- Neverland, former home of Michael Jackson, on...
- Latest on flooding: Body of missing Texas...
- Officials say those Boston snow piles are...
- Elder L. Tom Perry's cancer terminal,... 36
- PacSun pulls T-shirt from shelves after... 14
- 'Such a stress reliever': In Rhode... 13
- US to 'fine tune' Iraq strategy in... 12
- Family stress and poverty affect... 12
- Administration asks skeptical judge to... 9
- Census: Number of Americans on public... 9
- Obama urges Senate to renew... 7