Two shells hit the Russian embassy Tuesday in the Syrian capital of Damascus as hundreds took part in a rally to thank Moscow for its intervention in the civil war. A report by the Associated Press (AP) said that it was not clear if there were any casualties, but another report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) confirmed that there were no casualties.
A correspondent for AP was present at the location when the first shell hit the compound in central Damascus, leaving behind a plume of smoke. As people taking part in the rally started to run from the site, a second shell was fired at the area. As many as 300 people had gathered at the spot, carrying large photographs of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian flag, according to AFP. Some placards reportedly read "Thanks Russia" and "Syria and Russia are together to fight terrorism."
"Two rockets hit embassy territory at 10:15 a.m. (3:15 a.m. EDT). No one was killed or wounded," a senior official told AFP.
The AFP report also added, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that the rockets were fired from the eastern edge of the capital, which is known to be the residing place for Islamist rebels.
Russia started airstrikes against insurgents in Syria on Sept. 30, claiming that it was targeting mainly the Islamic State group and other "terrorists," AP reported. However, the report also added that Russia was waging an attack in areas controlled by U.S.-backed rebels as well as insurgents like the Nusra Front, also known as al Qaeda in Syria.
"The Russian intervention came to declare a new eastern Crusader war after the western Crusader war failed in Syria," Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammed al-Golani said, according to AP, which cited an audio message released Tuesday.
Golani also called on rebel groups in the region to unite and attack the villages where members of Syrian president Bashar Assad's minority Alawite sect reside. He further asked Muslims in Russia to attack civilians there, if Russians target civilians in Syria.