Islamic State group claims bombings near Syria Shiite shrine

Islamic State group claims bombings near Syria Shiite shrine

Beirut (AFP) - The Islamic State group on Sunday claimed responsibility for bombings near a revered Shiite shrine outside the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 45 people.

In a statement circulated on social media, the jihadist group said two of its members had detonated suicide bombs near the Sayyida Zeinab shrine.

"Two soldiers of the caliphate carried out martyrdom operations in a den of the infidels in the Sayyida Zeinab area, killing nearly 50 and injuring around 120," the group said.

Syrian state media earlier reported 45 people had been killed and 110 injured in the attacks, which it said involved a car bomb and two suicide bombers.

Sayyida Zeinab, south of the capital, contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and is particularly revered as a pilgrimage site by Shiite Muslims.

It has continued to attract pilgrims from Syria and beyond, particularly Shiites from Iran, Lebanon, and Iraq, throughout the war.

The area around the shrine has been targeted on several occasions, and heavy security has been set up around it in a bid to protect it from damage.

Sunni Muslim extremist groups like IS consider Shiites heretics and have frequently targeted them in attacks.