140 people killed in Syria bomb blasts

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on February 21, 2013 shows Syrians carrying an injured man after a powerful car bomb exploded near the headquarters of Syria's ruling Baath party in the centre of Damascus. The blast sent thick smoke billowing across the capital's skyline and all roads in the area were quickly sealed off, an AFP correspondent said. AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

Damascus, Bomb blasts have killed scores of people in Jableh and Tartous on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and wounded many others in the government-controlled territory that hosts Russian military bases.Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on Monday in the cities that have up to now escaped the worst of the violence in the five-year-old conflict, saying it was targeting members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 145 people were killed in attacks by at least five suicide bombers and two devices planted in cars.State media said 78 people had been killed in what is Assad’s coastal heartland.The attacks were the first of their kind in Tartous, capital of Tartous province and home to a Russian naval facility, and Jableh in Latakia province, near a Russian-operated air base.The Kremlin said the bomb blasts underscored the need to press ahead with Geneva peace talks after a February 27 ceasefire collapsed in April as violence intensified in a war that has killed at least 250,000 people.’This demonstrates yet again just how fragile the situation in Syria is. And this one more time underscores the need for new urgent steps to continue the negotiating process,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his readiness to fight with the Syrian government against ‘the terrorist threat’ sent his condolences to Assad, the Kremlin said.

The Syrian foreign ministry sent a letter to the United Nations, state television reported, saying the blasts were a ‘dangerous escalation by the hostile and extremist regimes in Riyadh, Ankara and Doha’, referring to support given to the rebels by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.One of the four blasts in Jableh hit near a hospital and another at a bus station.Younes Hassan, a doctor working at the Jableh hospital, said he heard an explosion at the bus station, followed less than a minute later by the blast at the hospital.Islamic State claimed the attacks in a statement posted online by the group’s Amaq news agency, saying its fighters had targeted ‘gatherings of Alawites’.Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said terrorists were resorting to bomb attacks against civilians instead of fighting on the front lines, and vowed to keep battling them.The government refers to all insurgents fighting against it in the conflict as terrorists.Bombings in the capital Damascus and western city of Homs this year killed dozens of people and were also claimed by IS, 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.

Source- Reuters

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