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No fewer than 148 people were killed on Monday in bomb explosions in Jableh and Tartous on Syria’s Mediterranean coast on Monday in the government-controlled territory that hosts Russian military bases, Reuters quotes monitors and state media as saying.
It was reported that at least 200 persons were wounded in the attacks claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the cities, saying it was targeting members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 148 people were killed in attacks by at least five suicide bombers and two devices planted in cars. State media had 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 in Jableh in Latakia province, near a Russian-operated air base.
Sky News reports that 73 people were killed in Jableh and another 48 died in Tartus further south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
The attacks mark the latest development in a bloody six-year civil war, as the United Nations’ Syria envoy continues to attempt to restart peace talks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the increase in militant attacks and bombings in Syria “once again demonstrates how fragile the situation in Syria is”.
Local television reports said that at least one suicide bomber targeted a busy bus station in Tartus, followed by a car laden with explosives minutes later.
In a separate attack, four explosions hit Jableh, which is south of Latakia city.
They included three rocket attacks and a suicide bomber at a city hospital, state media said.
Russia has a naval base in Tartus, and an air base in Latakia province. Insurgents are known to have a presence in rural Latakia.
Syrian cabinet minister Omran al Zoubi told Syrian television, “We will not be deterred … we will use everything we have to fight the terrorists.”
A one-sentence report by the ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency, which routinely carries the group’s news, claimed responsibility but gave no further details.