Published: Wed, September 07, 2016
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Dozens killed in explosions targeting government-held Syrian cities

Dozens killed in explosions targeting government-held Syrian cities

At least 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a series of coordinated explosions across the country, Syrian state media reported.

In Tartus, two blasts targeted the Arzuna bridge, "the first a auto bomb and the second a suicide bomber who detonated his explosive belt when people gathered to help the wounded", according to state television.

More than 290,000 people have been killed in Syria since its conflict erupted in March 2011 and millions more have been displaced by the fighting.

The tourism board kicked off its campaign with a swanky video showing panoramic shots of beaches in Tartus, close to the protection of Russia's permanent naval base, and holidaymakers swimming and jet-skiing off Syria's Mediterranean coast.

Foreign and Expatriates Ministry affirmed on Monday that the terrorist, bloody explosions which took place today in the Syrian cities of Tartous, Homs, Damascus countryside and Hasaka are a continuation of the systemized terrorism practiced by the terrorist organizations, calling on Security Council to take immediate, punitive and deterrent procedures against the countries that support terrorism.

IS had earlier claimed another attack targeting Kurdish forces in the northeastern city of Hasakeh, and said another bombing targeted Kurdish forces in the nearby city of Qamishli.

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria expert with the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said it was too soon to say if the attacks by the IS group were a reaction to its recent defeats along the border.

The border town of Jarablus, which Syrian rebels and Turkish forces recently recaptured from the terror group, is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming in and out of ISIS-held areas.

Syrian state TV said 48 people were killed in blasts around the coastal city of Tartus in the west, the central city of Homs, the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, and the northeastern city of Hasakeh. The Kurdish YPG militia, a critical part of the USA -backed campaign against Islamic State, took nearly complete control of Hasaka city in late August after a week of fighting with the government. The Observatory said the explosion hit an army checkpoint and four officers were killed. Homs' health director told Syrian state media that hospitals had received two bodies and seven injured people. Turkey began an operation inside Syria on Aug 24, targeting both IS but also Syrian Kurdish forces that have been a key USA partner in the fight against the jihadist group in Syria. Washington backs the uprising against Assad, but is working with the Syrian leader's key ally Moscow on a deal to stem the bloodshed.

A State Department spokesman said yesterday that Washington's envoy to the US-led coalition against IS had been in Syria and Turkey last week holding talks with Syrian Kurdish forces and Turkish officials.

It had been hoped a deal on a ceasefire and humanitarian deliveries would be announced jointly by Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov on Monday, but it was not forthcoming. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was working with the USA -led coalition and Russian Federation to try to establish a ceasefire in Aleppo before the Eid al-Adha religious holiday expected to start around September 11.

Washington has urged Kurdish forces to honour a pledge to withdraw east of the Euphrates river to allay Turkish fears of a contiguous semi-autonomous Kurdish zone in Syria. Putin meanwhile said he felt there was "some alignment of positions and an understanding of what we could do to de-escalate the situation in Syria".

Despite this, Obama said Monday a meeting with Putin on Syria had included "productive conversations about what a real cessation of hostilities would look like".

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