Multiple sources reported a large explosion in southern Damascus on Sunday morning (local time), January 20. Syrian state media initially reported the explosion as a terrorist attack before later claiming it was a controlled demolition. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that the detonation occurred near an intelligence building and resulted in an unknown number of casualties. Roads near the site of the blast are also reportedly closed and a heightened security presence is expected in the area.
Also on Sunday, Russian and Syrian state sources reported that Syrian air defenses thwarted an attack by Israeli missiles near Damascus International Airport (DAM). Israel has not commented on the allegations.
Syria remains enmeshed in a complex civil war that started between the Assad government and opposition forces in March 2011. The conflict involves many parties, including the Syrian, Russian, Iranian, and Turkish governments, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups present within Syria (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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