A car bomb targeting a mosque in Damascus on Thursday killed at least 16 people, including a prominent pro-regime Sunni clergyman, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said, DPA reported.
State television blamed the death of Sheikh Mohamed Saeed al-Bouti on "terrorist gangs", a term used by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to refer to rebels fighting for his overthrow.
The broadcaster showed footage of wounded people and cut limbs on the blood-stained floor inside the mosque.
Dozens of ambulances were seen at the scene, which was sealed off by the military. The area of al-Mazraa is controlled by government forces.
The state-run Syrian news agency SANA said 14 people were killed and 40 were wounded in the blast, which it said was caused by a suicide bomber.
Al-Bouti, who was born in 1929 and is believed to be close to al-Assad, was giving a sermon at the mosque, when the blast occurred.
He had criticized pro-democracy protests by the Sunni majority against al-Assad, who is a member of minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
In 1960 he was appointed dean of the Faculty of Religion at Damascus University. He taught at the Damascus University where he chaired the Department of Theology.