Middle East

Syria conflict: IS claims wave of bombings that kills dozens

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Media captionIS claims wave of bombings that kills dozens

At least 40 people have been killed in bombings in mainly government-held areas of Syria, state media report.

Four attacks took place within an hour in Tartous, Homs and in a suburb of Damascus, with one in Hassakeh, which is dominated by Kurdish forces.

The deadliest incident was outside Tartous, home to a Russian naval base and in the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attacks.

The group made the claim in a statement carried by its affiliated news agency, Amaq.

'Crowd targeted'

The attacks took place between 08:00 and 09:00 (05:00-06:00 GMT) on Monday.

Syria's official Sana news agency reported that 30 civilians had been killed and 45 others injured in the Tartous countryside.

First, a car bomb was detonated on the Arzoneh motorway bridge, a local police source told Sana.

Then, as a crowd gathered at the scene to help the wounded, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt, the source added.

Tartous had been relatively unscathed by Syria's five-year civil war until May, when a suicide bomb attack on a bus station by IS militants left dozens dead.

In the central city of Homs, four people were killed and 10 injured when a car bomb exploded at the entrance to the Bab Tadmour district, Sana reported.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The bomb in Homs targeted a military checkpoint, according to the provincial governor

The governor of Homs province said the car bomb targeted a military checkpoint and that the casualties were soldiers.

One person was killed in a bombing on a road in Saboura, a heavily-guarded western suburb of Damascus, a police source told Sana.

Opposition activist Yousef al-Boustani said the area was home to security officers and their families and that the attack represented a major security breach.

In Hassakeh, an explosives-packed motorcycle was blown up at the Marsho roundabout, killing five civilians and injuring two others, Sana said.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The area targeted in Saboura is home to security officers and their families

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of sources, said three of the dead were Kurdish security personnel, known as the Asayish.

The Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia took near complete control of the north-eastern city last month after a week of clashes with government troops.

The Syrian Observatory put the total death toll for Monday's attacks at 47.

The attacks came as US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed a ceasefire deal for Syria on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have so far failed to reach a deal to ease fighting in Syria

Mr Obama said he and Mr Putin had had "productive" discussions and had agreed to continue the search for a comprehensive truce.

The US president said: "Given the gaps of trust that exist, that's a tough negotiation and we haven't yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work.

"But my instructions to Secretary [of State John] Kerry and Mr Putin's instructions to [Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov were to keep working at it over the next several days."

Mr Putin said the talks were "on the right track" and that there was "some alignment" with the US.

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.

The US is particularly concerned by the deteriorating conditions in and around Syria's second city, Aleppo, where rebel-held districts are once again under siege after government forces advanced on Sunday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also at the G20, said he had urged world powers to create a "safe zone" in Syria, with a "no-fly" element, that would help control the flow of migrants.