Russian embassy in Damascus hit by mortar attack; Moscow points finger at U.S.

DAMASCUS, Syria, The Russian embassy in Damascus was hit with mortars on Monday, Russian officials said.

The Russian embassy in Damascus was shelled Monday, with mortars landing near the residential part, as well as the embassy itself. While Russian authorities claimed one of two militant groups were responsible for the attack, they also accused the United States of arming the groups or playing some type of role in the bombing. Photo by Slasha/Shutterstock

One mortar landed near a residential part of the compound during the attack, two others landed near the embassy building, part of which was damaged, and two mines also exploded near the embassy, according to the Russian state-supported media agency TASS.

There were no casualties.

“The attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus can be definitely called a terrorist attack,” Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of the Russian State Duma and deputy secretary of the General Council of Russia’s ruling United Russia party, said in a statement. “We received no warnings from the Western security services about possible shelling of our diplomatic mission from heavy weapons, which means the attack had been seriously prepared by militants.”

Zheleznyak said responsibility for the attack rests “not only on militants but on those politicians who continue to flirt with terrorists breaking down possibilities for consolidating efforts against the most dangerous global evil.”

Russian authorities say the attack was conducted by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman militant groups, and say the United States may have been involvedin targeting the embassy.

“We will find and punish terrorists who shelled our embassy and it will be clear then whether their actions were independent or coordinated with the Western security services,” Zhelezhyak said.

This is not the first time the embassy in Damascus has been attacked. The embassy came under heavy shelling also in October 2015, with no injuries or casualties reported.

By Stephen Feller