What really happened in Damascus? Almost four hours passed after a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims exploded in Syria's capital before Damascus issued an official response: The blast was caused by a blown tire. Moreover, according to Syria's official version, the incident claimed the lives of only three people.
However, images of the bus in the wake of the explosion raise many question marks regarding what really happened in the capital.
Syria's interior minister, who arrived at the scene of the incident, quickly dismissed out of hand suggestions that the blast was a terror attack. Speaking to the media, he stressed that no remnants of explosive materials were found at the site.
However, not everyone was quick to buy into Syria's official statements. The BBC as well as some Iranian media outlets reported that a terror attack left six to 12 people dead and hurt dozens of others. While Damascus insisted that the bus was empty at the time of the blast, the BBC said it was carrying 40-50 passengers.
The images published by Syria showed that the bus was seriously damaged and that shrapnel broke windows and damaged other vehicles in the vicinity.
Soon after the incident, anti-Syrian sources in Lebanon claimed that Syria's defense establishment was again penetrated, referring to several incidents in recent years, including Israel's reported strike on a Syrian nuclear site and the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah in Damscus. This may explain why the Syrians were so interested in denying reports indicating that their security arrangements have been breached again.
In any case, it appears that for the time being, the details of what really happened in Syria will remain undisclosed.