Multiple blasts kill scores of people in Syrian cities, Putin expresses hope for possible deal
AFP photoMultiple bombs have hit mostly regime-controlled cities in Syria, killing at least 48 people, while no cease-fire deal was reached among the United States and Russia over the Syrian crisis, though the Russian president expressed hope for a possible deal “soon.”
Six explosions claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) hit government-controlled areas and a province held by Kurdish forces in Syria on Sept. 5, killing dozens of people, state media and a monitor said.
The blasts took place in the morning in the cities of Homs and Tartous and at the entrance to a town west of Damascus, all held by the government, and in Kurdish-held areas in Qamishli and Hasakeh in northeastern Syria.
ISIL’s media outlet, Amaq, said the attacks were suicide operations targeting the Syrian government and a Kurdish security force. It issued separate statements naming some of the bombers.
On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, that there had been some “alignment” with Obama over Syria after talks in China, insisting the two sides could reach a deal soon.
“Despite everything, we have some alignment of positions and an understanding of what we could do to de-escalate the situation in Syria,” he told a press conference following the G-20 Summit in China.
“I believe that we are on the right track and could, at least for some period of time, agree to carry out mutual energetic attempts to make the situation in Syria more healthy,” he said.
Putin insisted he believed a deal with Washington could be firmed up in the “coming days” but refused to give concrete details, saying that U.S. and Russian officials were still “working out some of our preliminary agreements.”
“We can say that our mutual work with the U.S. in fighting terrorist organizations, including in Syria, will be significantly improved and intensified.”
Obama earlier called the talks with Putin on Syria, which lasted about 90 minutes, “productive.”
Earlier in the day, a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, did not prove to be productive in reaching a truce deal over Syria.
Moscow and Washington support different sides in Syria’s festering conflict that has left 290,000 dead, with Russia backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while the United States supports rebel groups fighting him.
Among the six explosions in Syria, two explosions hit the Arzouna bridge area at the entrance to Tartous, killing 35 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a death toll that was confirmed by the head of a city hospital, Reuters reported.
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.
A car bomb struck the city of Homs at the Bab Tadmur roundabout at the entrance to the al-Zahra neighborhood, killing three people, state media said.
The observatory said the Homs explosion hit an army checkpoint, killing four officers.
West of Damascus, there was an explosion at the entrance to 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 local police chief told state media three men were stopped in a car by security forces.
“The driver was killed and the two others got out of the car and detonated their suicide belts, killing one person,” he said.
The observatory said three people died in the Saboura blast.
A motorbike also exploded in the center of the northeastern city of Hasakeh, killing five people including three members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-affiliated security force known as the Asayish, said the Observatory.
The YPG, a critical part of the U.S.-backed campaign against ISIL, took near complete control of Hasakeh in late August after a week of fighting with the government.
The observatory said a percussion bomb also went off in the province’s city of Qamishli, but nobody was harmed. Amaq however said seven Kurdish security forces were killed and injured there.