The bombings come as members of the Syrian government and the opposition gather in Geneva for peace talks.
The blasts went off in the Damascus suburb of Sayyda Zeinab, about 600 meters (yards) from one of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims.
State news agency SANA said 40 people were wounded in a vehicle bomb attack and two suicide bombings, citing an interior ministry source. State TV footage showed several burning cars and a torched bus, as well as blown out windows and large holes in the facade of a nearby apartment tower. The golden-domed Shiite shrine itself was not damaged. At least 25 foreign militia members were said to be among the dead, along with 29 civilians including children.
Only on Friday, the HNC said it would boycott the process, insisting it wanted an end to airstrikes and sieges of Syrian towns before joining the negotiations.
As the district holds religious significance for the Shiite people, Hezbollah sent fighters to protect the shrine and manned checkpoints surrounding it.
“Two soldiers of the caliphate carried out martyrdom operations in a den of the infidels in the Sayyida Zeinab area, killing almost 50 and injuring around 120”, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) said in a statement.
Kerry said ending the Syrian conflict would benefit the world community by ending the migrant crisis and would “cut the legs out from under” ISIS. “Without negotiations, the bloodshed will drag on until the last city is reduced to rubble and virtually every home, every form of infrastructure, and every semblance of civilization is destroyed”.
Staffan de Mistura, United Nations envoy on Syria, who is hosting the talks, said he was hoping to start them on Monday, albeit with the two delegations sitting in separate rooms.
Earlier in the day, de Mistura paid a courtesy visit to the opposition’s delegation in Geneva saying he is “optimistic and determined”, describing indirect peace talks between the government and the opposition as “a historic occasion” to end the country’s civil war.
Hezbollah is a staunch ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and has dispatched fighters to bolster his troops against the uprising that began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.
The Syrian state news agency SANA has put the death toll from the attack at more than 50.
“Those who speak about preconditions are coming to this meeting in order to derail it and is not concerned about a Syrian-Syrian dialogue”, Bashar Jaafari said. However, a negotiator from Jaish al-Islam, Mohamed Alloush, told Reuters he was going to Geneva to show that the Syrian government was not serious about seeking a political solution.
Ja’afari added that the Damascus-area bombings “confirms what the Syrian government has stated before – that there is a link between terrorism and the sponsors of terrorism from one side, and some political groups, who claim that they are against terrorism”.
Assad’s government has long referred to all those fighting to overthrow him as terrorists, but has agreed to negotiations with some armed groups in the latest talks.
Also missing is Ahrar al-Sham, a Salafist group backed by Turkey and Qatar that has been fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, and which the regime says it can not accept as a negotiating partner.