Suicide bombs kill dozens in Syrian government bastion Tartus

#SyriaWar

At least 35 reported dead in coastal city, while central city of Homs and north-east town of Hasakeh also hit

The blast hit a bridge into the city of Tartus (AFP)
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Monday 5 September 2016 19:52 UTC
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A string of bomb attacks hit mostly government-controlled areas of Syria on Monday, killing several dozen people including at least 35 in President Bashar al-Assad's coastal stronghold of Tartus, state media said.

At least 48 people died in the multiple blasts, with dozens also wounded in the double bombing outside of Tartus city, which is home to a Russian naval base. 

Other attacks hit government-held Homs city, an army checkpoint on a road outside Damascus, and a Kurdish security forces checkpoint in Hasakah city.

The Islamic State group claimed the attack on a Kurdish security post in Hasakah, but there were no immediate claims for the other attacks in Tartus, on government-held Homs city and at an army checkpoint on a road outside Damascus.

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

Quoting the head of Al-Bassel hospital in Tartus, the channel said 35 people had been killed and 43 others wounded in the attack. 

Tartus has been largely spared the worst violence of Syria's conflict since it began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

It has become a refuge for many Syrians fleeing the fighting that has displaced over half the country's population.

In the northeast of the country, at least eight people were killed by a bomber on a bike in the city of Hasakah, which is mostly controlled by Kurdish forces, though the regime is also present.

Syrian state media said the dead were six members of the Asayesh security forces and two civilians.

Hasakah city has been regularly targeted by IS, including in July when a motorcycle bomber killed at least 16 people outside a bakery in the city.

The IS-linked Amaq news agency reported the blast in Hasakah, but did not carry any immediate claim of responsibility.

Monday's bombings came after advances by Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels expelled IS from the last stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border under their control.

IS has been losing ground to both an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and, more recently, a Turkish offensive involving rebels loyal to Ankara.

In central Homs city, state media said at least four people were killed in a car bomb at the entrance to al-Zahraa district, whose residents mostly belong to the same Alawite sect as Assad.

Zahraa has also been regularly targeted in bomb attacks, including a devastating double bomb blast in February that killed 57 people and was claimed by IS.

State television broadcast images from the aftermath of the blast in Homs, showing rubble strewn on the streets and smoke rising from the charred remains of vehicles.

Another bomb attack was also reported on al-Sabura road west of the capital Damascus, with state media saying one person had been killed and three wounded in that bombing.

The observatory said that attack targeted a checkpoint and gave a toll of three dead.