Blasts kill more than 120 in Syrian government-held cities: monitor

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, saying it was targeting members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority.

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.

Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said in an interview with Ikhbariya that terrorists were resorting to bomb attacks against civilians instead of fighting on the frontlines, and vowed to keep battling them.

Damascus refers to all insurgents fighting against it in the five-year conflict as terrorists.

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 jihadist rival al Qaeda and other insurgent groups.

Latakia city, which is north of Jableh and capital of the province, has been targeted on a number of occasions by bombings and insurgent rocket attacks, including late last year.

Government forces and their allies have recently stepped up bombardment of areas in Aleppo province in the north, which has become a focal point for the escalating violence. Insurgents have also launched heavy attacks in that area.


Multiple blasts hit two Syrian coastal cities, kill over 100

BEIRUT: Multiple explosions hit the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous on Monday, killing and wounding more than 100 in an area that has up to now escaped the worst of the conflict, monitors and state-run TV said.

At least two of the blasts were suicide bombs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, putting the total number of explosions at seven - four in Jableh, in Latakia province, and three in Tartous province's capital farther south.

The Observatory and state-run news outlets reported people killed and wounded in both cities along the Mediterranean coast, but did not give a specific number.

State-run Ikhbariya news channel broadcast what it said were scenes of one of the blasts in Jableh, showing several twisted and incinerated cars and minivans.

Ikhbariya reported in a news flash that three explosions hit Jableh. It described the blasts as terrorist attacks.

State TV said one blast in Jableh took place near the government hospital.

It said one of the Tartous explosions was a car bomb, and that another was from a suicide bomber. The blasts hit a residential area, it said.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for deadly bomb attacks in Syrian coastal cities.