Monday May 23, 2016
BEIRUT: Bomb blasts killed scores of people in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous on Monday, and wounded many others in the government-controlled territory that hosts Russian military bases, monitors and state media said.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Mediterranean cites that have up to now escaped the worst of the conflict.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 120 people were killed. State media said 78 people died in the attacks on Assad’s coastal heartland.
Attackers set off at least five suicide bombs and two devices planted in cars, the Observatory said, the first assaults of their kind in Tartous, where government ally Russia maintains a naval facility, and Jableh in Latakia province, near a Russian-operated air base.
Fighting has increased in other parts of Syria in recent weeks as world powers struggle to revive a threadbare ceasefire and resurrect peace talks that collapsed in Geneva this year.
One of the four blasts in Jableh hit near a hospital and another at a bus station, while the Tartous explosions also targeted a bus station, the Observatory and state media reported.
Footage broadcast by the state-run Ikhbariya news channel of what it said were scenes of the blasts in Jableh showed several twisted and incinerated cars and minivans.
Pictures circulated by pro-Damascus social media users showed dead bodies in the back of pick-up vans and charred body parts on the ground.
The Syrian Observatory said at least 53 people were killed in Jableh, and 48 in Tartous. The interior ministry said in a statement more than 20 people had been killed, and one state media outlet put the death toll at 45 people.
Bombings in the capital Damascus and western city Homs earlier this year killed scores and were claimed by Islamic State, which is fighting against government forces and their allies in some areas, and separately against its rival Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups.
Russia, which intervened in the Syrian war in support of President Bashar Al-Assad last September, operates an air base at Hmeymim in Latakia and a naval facility at Tartous.
Latakia city, which is north of Jableh and capital of the province that is President Assad´s heartland, has been targeted on a number of occasions by bombings and insurgent rocket attacks.
— Photo by Reuters