A string of bomb attacks hit across mostly government-controlled areas of Syria on Monday, killing at least 48 people, state media said. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for one of the blasts, against a Kurdish security post in Hasakeh, 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.
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. 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 more than half the country’s population.
In the northeast of the country, at least eight people were killed by a bomber on a motorbike in the city of Hasakeh, 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. IS claimed the attack in a statement circulated on social media.
Hasakeh 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.
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. The jihadist group has been losing ground to both an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and, more recently, to 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, a neighbourhood whose residents mostly belong to the same Alawite sect as Assad. Al-Zahraa has also been regularly targeted in attacks, including a devastating double bomb blast in February that killed 57 people and was claimed by IS.