Blasts hit government-held and Kurdish parts of Syria, several killed


Five explosions hit government-controlled areas and a city held by a Kurdish militia in Syria on Monday morning, killing several people, state media and a monitor said.

It was not immediately clear if there was any link between the blasts reported along a road outside Damascus, in the state-held cities of Homs and Tartous – which hosts a Russian military base – and in northeastern city of Hasaka, which is controlled by Kurdish YPG fighters.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks which all took place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. local time (0500-0600 GMT).

More than five years of civil war have cut Syria into a patchwork of territories held by the state and an array of armed factions – including Islamic State which attacked the Mediterranean city of Tartous in May.

Two explosions hit the Arzouna bridge area at the entrance to Tartous on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and state news agency SANA said.

The Observatory put the death toll at 32, including members of the Syrian military, and said the number was likely to rise. The head of a Tartous hospital told SANA 35 people were killed and 45 wounded.

Syrian state television said the first explosion was a car bomb and the second was a suicide belt detonated as rescue workers came to the scene of the first incident.

The blasts hit during Tartous’s Summer Festival. Its beaches recently featured in a government tourism video circulated on social media inviting people to visit Syria’s Mediterranean coastline.

A car bomb struck the city of Homs at the Bab Tadmur roundabout at the entrance to the al-Zahra neighbourhood, killing three people, state media said.

The Observatory said the Homs explosion hit an army checkpoint and two officers were killed.

There was an explosion near the town of al Saboura, along a road which leads onto the Beirut-Damascus highway, killing one person and injuring three, according to a police commander quoted on state television.

A motorbike also exploded in the centre of the northeastern city of Hasaka, which is controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia.

The Observatory said the blast killed three members of the YPG-affiliated security force known as the Asayish, and injured others.

The Kurdish YPG militia, a critical part of the U.S.-backed campaign against Islamic State, took near complete control of Hasaka city in late August after a week of fighting with the government. [nL8N1B41PP]

The YPG already controls swathes of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established de facto autonomy since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.

Author: Lisa Barrington

Source: www.reuters.com

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