A previous blast in the suburb, claimed by the Islamic State group, killed some 130 people in February.
There is no discernible tactical benefit to the U.S. getting involved in Syria. In fact, there is every reason to stay away -- to let two enemies continue their war against each other to the bitter end, then re-evaluate how to engage (or not) whomever emerges. The only good reason for the Americans to get involved is humanitarian.
He called me over and took my documents and after looking at them he asked me to wait while he used his walkie-talkie to summon a colleague. He suggested, and then insisted, that I sit on a plastic chair while we waited.
The Syrian government has now established a permanent network of surveillance over the old city. One night recently I was strolling through the souq and saw a figure walking slowly ahead of me in the poorly-lit passage, an object dangling from their arm. When I drew within a few paces, he started and turned quickly to face me, watching me closely as I passed.