Updated on January 31 at 1:49 p.m. ET
At least 45 people have been killed in three explosions—two suicide attacks and a car bomb—near a Shia shrine south of Damascus, the Syrian government said Sunday. The blasts, which were claimed by the Islamic State, came amid a UN attempt to mediate peace talks between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups.
SANA, the state-run Syrian news agency, quoted an Interior Ministry source as saying the explosions hit the Koua Soudan neighborhood near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab. The car bomb went off at a bus station in the area and, SANA reported, when locals gathered to help victims, two suicide bombers blew themselves up. The agency said at least 110 people were wounded in the attacks.
The shrine of Sayyida Zeinab is said to contain the grave of the Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter. It is revered by Shiites and, despite the fighting in Syria, continues to be a major center of pilgrimage. The shrine, the area around which is controlled by the Syrian government and Hezbollah, was previously targeted in February 2015.
ISIS, as the Islamic State is also known, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks, which came as representatives of Syria’s government and its opposition began gathering in Geneva for indirect, UN-mediated talks. The future of those talks are uncertain. Two of the groups that will be gathering in Geneva are Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam, which Assad’s government views as terrorist organizations.