Suicide bombings struck a courthouse and a restaurant Wednesday in the Syrian capital of Damascus, killing more than two dozen people and injuring others, Syrian state news said.
The violence unfolded as the Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, enters its seventh year with no end in sight. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, which the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Doctors risking their lives to save Syrians
On Wednesday, at least 25 people were killed at the Palace of Justice, the main courthouse in the city center of Damascus, Syrian state TV reported, citing police.
A number of people were wounded in the attack, which occurred during busy work hours. The Syrian prosecutor general said the strike was timed to inflict many casualties
Police tried to prevent the attacker from entering, but he was able to force his way in and blow himself up.
Justice Minister Najm al-Ahmad said on state media that the courthouse bomber was wearing a military uniform.
"While security forces were searching people, as we have very restricted security measures at palaces of justice, they found out about this person who was wearing a fake military uniform. He forced himself among a crowd of civilians," the minister said.
A few miles away in the al-Rabwa neighborhood, a bomber wearing a suicide vest blew himself up inside a restaurant, killing and wounding a number of people, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The precise breakdown of casualties has not been released.
Islamist rebels claim responsibility for twin blasts in Damascus
State TV said that security forces were chasing the "terrorist" when he went inside the restaurant.
There were no claims of responsibility for Wednesday's attacks.
Over the weekend two bombings targeting buses of Iraqi Shiite pilgrims killed more than 70 people in Damascus. An umbrella group of Syrian Islamist rebels claimed responsibility.
Reduced to rubble
Stephen O'Brien, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, issued a message Wednesday on the crisis, saying the Syrian people "have watched huge parts of their beloved country reduced to rubble" since the conflict began.
"The toll taken on civilians is inexcusable," he said.
"A generation of children in Syria have known nothing but brutal conflict and fear during their short lives."
Help Syrians survive the conflict
Millions have been been displaced -- fleeing to other countries or elsewhere in Syria, he said. They are in "dire need of humanitarian aid," and millions would still need critical assistance, even if a political agreement "were to succeed tomorrow," O'Brien said.
Despite efforts to negotiate peace, world powers so far have failed to stop the conflict.
"Brave humanitarians will continue to stand with the people of Syria to deliver aid to millions of civilians who are most in need -- regardless of which side they are perceived to be on. We join Syrians in hoping that 2017 will be the year the carnage finally ends," O'Brien said