Two bombs kill at least 19 people in Syria’s Homs
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoAt least 19 people were killed and dozens wounded in large bomb blasts in Syria’s western city of Homs’ Al-Zahraa neighborhood on Dec. 28, Syria’s state news agency SANA said.
State television said two explosions caused by car bombs and a blast caused by a suicide attacker wearing an explosives-laden belt hit Al-Zahraa’s main square.
The station broadcast scenes of chaos in the central city, as firetrucks tried to extinguish flaming cars and rescue workers carried bloodied victims.
The residents of Al-Zahraa are mostly Alawites, the minority sect of Syria’s ruling clan.
“These terrorist, cowardly, and desperate attacks come in response to the growing spirit of national reconciliation throughout Syria,” Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said in comments carried by state news agency SANA.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the blasts and reported at least 32 dead, and 90 wounded.
It was the second major attack in the city since a ceasefire deal took effect earlier this month, paving the way for the government to take over the last rebel-controlled area of Homs.
Twin blasts on Dec. 12, also in Zahra, killed at least 16 people. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it had detonated a suicide car bomb.
Under the Homs ceasefire deal, at least 700 insurgent fighters and members of their families left the last rebel-controlled area of the city, al Waer district. The United Nations presided over implementation of the deal.
Homs city, once dubbed “the capital of the revolution,” came under full government control earlier this month after a ceasefire deal with rebels.
More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, which began in 2011 with anti-government protests but spiralled into a bloody conflict.