Bomb blast near military bus in Syria kills 18 soldiers Beirut: Bomb blast near military bus in Syria kills 18 soldiers. A bomb exploded near a Syrian military bus in a Damascus suburb Thursday, killing 18 soldiers and wounding 27 others, Syrian state media reported citing a military source. Similar attacks in past years have killed and wounded dozens of soldiers in government-held parts of the war-torn country. Last March, militants attacked a military bus near Palmyra in central Syria, killing 13 troops and wounding 18 others. Syrian authorities in the past have blamed such attacks on Islamic State group militants who have been active in southern and central Syria, despite losing territorial control in the country since 2019. In northern Syria, members of an al-Qaida-linked group captured a town that had been held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters since 2018. The capture of the town of Afrin by members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for the Levant Liberation Committee, which is the strongest militant group in the rebel-held northwest, came after days of fighting between rival insurgent groups in the area. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said HTS captured some 30 military posts in the area from Turkey-backed groups. The fighting was triggered by last week’s killing of a citizen journalist and his wife who were shot dead while on a motorcycle in the northern town of al-Bab. A Turkey-backed group was blamed for the killing and since then it has come under attack by several insurgent groups, including HTS.