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The suburb’s residents have been hit hard. Activists from the Moadamiyeh Media Center reported six people died of starvation in September: two women and four children. One woman described how her 18-month-old daughter lost half her weight as she struggled to nourish her on boiled lentil water.

It’s not clear how many people still live in the area. A Moadamiyeh Media Center activist who only identified himself as Mahmoud out of security concerns estimated some 12,000 people likely remain.

In Damascus itself, a double car bombing targeted the state TV building in central Umayyad Square, Syria’s official news agency said. The blast caused minor damage to the building, the agency said.

State TV said several pedestrians were wounded in the attack, but there was no further immediate word on casualties. State TV aided video of the blazing wreckage of a car in front of the building.

Also Sunday, Islamic extremists blew up a shrine of a mystic Muslim saint, Issa Abdul-Qader al-Rafai, in the northern town of Busaira, the Observatory said. A shrine belonging to the mystic’s brother was destroyed in September.

Islamic extremists, who form some of the most powerful armed factions in the rebel ranks, also have burnt churches, smashed statues, and desecrated shrines belonging to Islam’s minority Muslim sects, and those belonging to mystic Sufi branches of Islam.

Associated Press writers Diaa Hadid in Beirut and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.