According to a Syrian news agency, at least 53 people were killed and more than 200 wounded Thursday when a car bomb exploded near the headquarters of President Bashar al-Assad’s party in Damascus. Syrian state media have deemed the incident a “terrorist” attack. At least four of the injured were children, Syrian state media reported. Eyewitnesses said a car exploded at a checkpoint between the Baath Party headquarters and the Russian Embassy, and the blast caused an immense cloud of smoke to rise over much of the city. “It was huge. Everything in the shop turned upside down,” said one local resident. The violence comes as the Arab League and Russia have offered to broker talks between the rebels and the government.