Destruction in Syria
Destruction in Syria AFP file

At least 25 were killed and 45 others were wounded Monday in central Damascus after a car bomb exploded between the Saba’a Bahrat Square and Shahbander Street.

A number of reports said the bombing was the result of a suicide attack. According to state broadcaster al-Ikhbariya and the Associated Press, the attack occurred some 20 meters (66 feet) away from the Bukhari School. Children were believed to be among the casualties.

Intense gunfire was heard shortly after the explosion, AFP reported, with massive plumes of smoke and flames rising from the scene.

Less than two months ago, a similar attack in central Damascus left some 53 dead and more than 200 wounded, as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters struggle for control of the country.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said over the weekend that inspectors are standing by, ready to deploy within 24 hours to investigate reports of chemical weapons attacks.    

On March 19, both the government and opposition forces blamed each other for an alleged chemical weapons attack on the village of Khan al-Assal in the northern Aleppo province.

However, the U.N. has not received permission from the Assad regime for the inspectors to enter the country to investigate or confirm the claim.

At least 70,000 people have died in the deadly civil war that has ravaged the countryside since the uprising began with a scrawled protest on a wall in Dera’a in March 2011. Of those, 8, 785 were Syrian Army soldiers, according to a report released Monday by the Syria-based Violations Documentation Center.