Trail of death: String of bombings kill 189 in Syria, Yemen

IS claims responsibility for the attacks

Afp May 24, 2016

ADEN/ DAMASCUS: A string of bombings in Syrian government strongholds killed at least 148 people while two more bombings in Yemen claimed the lives of 41 people on Monday. The responsibility for the attacks was claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group –also known by its Arabic acronym of Da’ish.

In the deadliest attacks to date in the Syrian regime’s coastal heartland, seven near-simultaneous explosions targeted bus stations, hospitals and other civilian sites in Jableh and Tartus cities, which until now had been relatively insulated from the five-year war.

The unprecedented attacks on strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad came as IS faces mounting pressure in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, where a major offensive to retake the militant-held city of Fallujah is underway.

A hundred people were killed in Jableh and another 48 in Tartus to the south, including children, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said they were “without a doubt the deadliest attacks” on the two cities since the start of the war.

IS claimed the blasts in a statement, saying they were in retaliation for the Syrian regime and Russian air strikes against the jihadists and vowed to carry out “more devastating and bitter attacks”.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the “terrorist attacks”, renewing his call to all Syrian warring factions to spare civilians. He added those responsible for such attacks must face justice.

Human Rights Watch also denounced the bombings, saying targeting civilians “would appear to constitute war crimes”.

The attacks began at 9am (0600 GMT) with three explosions at a busy bus station in Tartus, where Russia has long maintained a naval facility.

Around 15 minutes later, the explosions began in Jableh, 40 kilometres to the north. Four blasts – one car bomb and three suicide attackers – targeted a bus station, a hospital and a power station.

Russia also condemned the attacks, saying they “demonstrate yet again how fragile the situation is in Syria and the need to take energetic measures to re-launch peace talks”.

The French government slammed the bombings as “heinous”.

Yemen bleeds

Twin bombings claimed by Da’ish also hit Yemeni forces in Aden, killing at least 41 people in the latest spate of attacks in the war-torn country.

In the first attack, a suicide bomber killed 34 people, lined up to enlist at a recruitment centre near the Badr base in Aden’s Khormaksar district, said Brigadier General Nasser al-Sarei, Yemen’s special security forces commander. A subsequent explosion inside the base killed seven soldiers, he added.

Abandoned slippers and sandals, apparently from the victims, covered the area, television footage showed. Medics said at least 38 people were wounded in the twin attacks.

In a statement posted online, IS said one of its fighters detonated an explosives belt among “apostate soldiers” at a recruitment centre, followed by the bombing at a gate of the Badr base.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2016.


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