String of deadly bomb attacks hit across Syria
DAMASCUS - A string of bomb attacks hit across mostly government-controlled areas of Syria on Monday, killing several dozen people including at least 35 in President Bashar al-Assad's coastal stronghold of Tartus, state media said.
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.
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.
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.
ISIS claimed the attack in a statement circulated on social media.
Hasakeh city has been regularly targeted by ISIS, 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 ISIS 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 ISIS.
State television broadcast images from the aftermath of the blast in Homs, showing rubble strewn on the streets and smoke rising from the charred remains of vehicles.
Another bomb attack was also reported on Al-Sabura road west of the capital Damascus, with state media saying one person had been killed and three wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said that attack targeted a checkpoint and gave a toll of three dead.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the dead in both the Homs and Al-Sabura road attacks were government security forces manning checkpoints.
He said the blasts appeared to be coordinated.
"Clearly these attacks were simultaneous and they all targeted security posts," he said.
More than 290,000 people have been killed in Syria since its conflict erupted in March 2011, and millions displaced by the fighting.