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Massive blast devastates Damascus area

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 17 (UPI) — An explosion one witness said sounded “like thunder” slammed a Damascus neighborhood where several embassies and a military airport are located late Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in London, said a car bomb was set off at a checkpoint near the military airport in the Mezzeh section of Damascus, The (Beirut, Lebanon) Daily Star reported.

The Observatory said there were reports of casualties, but provided no figures.

“It was so big. There was a white light followed by a sound like thunder,” said one resident who was several kilometers from the site.

Syrian state TV referred to the blast as “a terrorist attempt to target Mezzeh military airport,” the BBC reported

The British network said there were unconfirmed reports of about 20 soldiers killed or wounded in the massive blast.

Rebel supporters said a big fire raged inside the strategic military airport and that ambulances were heading to the scene, the BBC said.

Another opposition group in London, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said it had logged 82 people killed across Syria Sunday, with 20 of them in Damascus and its suburbs. It’s numbers could not be confirmed.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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