Suicide attacks on bases in Syria's Homs kill 42
The bombings in Homs came a day after the Islamic State killed 77 people in a separate wave of attacks in northern Syria
Suicide attacks on two security service bases in the heart of Syria’s government-held third city of Homs killed 42 people on Saturday, overshadowing peace talks in Geneva, state television and a monitor said.
“There were at least six attackers and several of them blew themselves up near the headquarters of state security and military intelligence,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
State television reported that the province’s army intelligence chief, General Hassan Daabul, a close confidant of President Bashar al-Assad, was among the dead when the six suicide bombers struck in the heavily guarded Ghouta and Mahatta neighbourhoods.
Security forces locked down the city centre.
Homs has been under the full control of the government since May 2014 when rebels withdrew from the centre under a UN-brokered truce deal.
But it has seen repeated bombings since then. Twin attacks killed 64 people early last year.
State television paid tribute to the “martyrs” in the latest bombings.
Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front said it carried out the suicide attack.
Government forces retook the oasis city of Palmyra and its Unesco-listed ancient ruins in a much heralded Russian-backed offensive in March last year but were then pushed out by IS in December.
Since then, the focus of government efforts has been further north, on second city Aleppo, which they fully retook after a rebel withdrawal in December, and areas to its east and west.
Saturday’s attack comes as the UN is struggling to get a new round of peace talks off the ground aimed at ending the six-year civil war which has killed more than 310,000 people.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said that despite government and rebel delegations being present in Geneva for the talks there had been little discussion of substance between the rival parties.
“We discussed issues relating to the format of the talks exclusively,” said Syrian regime delegation chief Bashar al-Jaafari after meeting de Mistura on Friday.
The bombings in Homs came a day after the Islamic State killed 77 people in a separate wave of attacks in northern Syria, where Turkey-backed rebels have pushed the extremist group from their last urban stronghold along the Turkish border.
In the earlier attack, the first car bomb struck amid a throng of displaced people who had been waiting for permission to return to their homes in the nearby town of al-Bab.