Simultaneous car bombings killed more than 50 people and left a trail of destruction in a town near Syria's capital today, as rebels downed a military aircraft for a second straight day.
The explosives-packed cars were detonated at daybreak in a pro-regime neighbourhood of the mainly Christian and Druze town of Jaramana, residents, state media and a rights watchdog reported.
The blasts ripped through a central square near a petrol station, sending residents fleeing in panic.
There was a ball of fire at the end of a narrow lane, and the impact of the explosions brought walls down onto cars, crushing them and scattering debris over the ground.
Pools of blood and severed body parts were on the streets, said an AFP photographer in the town.
The death toll mounted as the day wore on, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights giving tallies of 20, then 29, 38 and later 54.
More than 120 people were wounded, and many residents rushed with them to hospital, while others visited the homes of bereaved families.
"What do they want from Jaramana? The town brings together people from all over Syria and welcomes everybody," one resident told AFP.
Jarmana has now been targeted by four such bomb attacks in three months. It is home to predominantly Christians and Druze, an influential minority whose faith is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Sectarian divides are a key factor in Syria's armed rebellion, with many in the Sunni Muslim majority frustrated at more than 40 years of Alawite-dominated rule.