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Prominent pro-Assad cleric killed in Damascus blast: State TV (VIDEO)

A leading mullah and backer of Assad, Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti is reported killed in Syria.

Syria 3rd annivesary 1Enlarge
A Syrian girl rides her bicycle in an almost deserted street in the Teshrin neighborhood of Damascus on Jan. 3, 2013. As the Syrian Civil War draws closer to its third anniversary, the fighting between the Assad regime and Syrian rebels has escalated. (Omar Al-Khani/AFP/Getty Images)

A suicide bombing at a mosque in Damascus on Thursday killed a major Sunni preacher and supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Associated Press, which cited state television.

The elderly Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, reportedly in his 90s, was killed in an attack on the Ummayyad Mosque in the capital, reported Reuters, as was his grandson.

Syrian TV raised the death toll for the attack to 42, while 84 people were reported injured, said Reuters.

The Los Angeles Times said he had been speaking at the mosque at the time of the attack. 

The violence comes as Assad battles an armed rebellion against his rule. An estimated 70,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past two years, bloodshed that continues despite international outcry.

More from GlobalPost: Chemical weapons used in Syria: Sources

Efforts by the United Nations and others to help end the violence there have not been successful. 

Watch a video of the aftermath at the mosque below, courtesy of The Guardian

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130321/prominent-pro-assad-cleric-killed-damascus-blast-stat