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Dozens killed after huge car bomb hits Syria's capital

GRAPHIC WARNING: Contains images which some viewers may find disturbing. 

SANA via AP

Syrian security agents next to a vehicle on fire following a huge explosion in Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

SANA via Reuters

Vehicles burn near a crater on a road after an explosion in central Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013

By The Associated Press

The death toll is expected to rise in Damascus after a car bomb exploded near a security checkpoint in the downtown area of the Syrian capital. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Syrian state TV says 53 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in a car bomb attack near the headquarters of the ruling Baath party in central Damascus.

The bomb was one of at least three attacks in the heart of the city on Thursday. A second blast shook another neighborhood and mortar rounds exploded near the Syrian Army General Command.

The Britain-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 had been killed in the car bombing, most of them civilians.

The difference in the death tolls could not be immediately reconciled. Click here for updates on this developing story.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Pictures released by the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. 

SANA via EPA

A thick black pall of smoke fills the air close to the site of a large explosion in Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

SANA via EPA

Wounded men sit near destroyed cars and other damage following a large explosion in Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

SANA via AP

Syrian security agents carrying a body following a huge explosion that shook central Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

SANA via EPA

Clouds of smoke swirling around destroyed cars following a large explosion in Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

SANA via AP

An injured man lying on the ground after a huge explosion in Damascus on Feb. 21, 2013.

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