The blasts, which came as the UN's Syria envoy struggled to convene fresh peace talks in Geneva from which IS is excluded, tore a massive crater in the road, overturning and mangling cars and a bus and shattering windows.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said 71 people were killed in two blasts near the Sayyida Zeinab shrine yesterday, including five children.

The first blast was a suicide car bomb, followed by a second suicide bomber who detonated his explosive belt when a crowd gathered, the monitoring group said.

Syrian state media earlier reported more than 50 people killed and over 100 injured in what it described as three blasts.

Official news agency said the first blast was caused by a car bomb that detonated at a bus station near the shrine, which both Iran and Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah have vowed to defend.

It said two suicide bombers then set off their explosive belts when people gathered at the scene.

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