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Over 100 feared killed as blasts hit near Russian military bases in Syria’s Latakia province
A Syrian army soldier and civilians inspect the damage after explosions hit the Syrian city of Tartous, in this handout picture provided by SANA on May 23, 2016. © SANA / Reuters
Jihadist group Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islamiyya took responsibility for the blasts in both Jableh and Tartus.
Later, Islamic State militants also claimed the attacks saying via its news outlet, Amaq, that “gatherings of Alawites in Tartous and Jableh” had been targeted. The Alawites is the minority sect to which President Bashar Assad belongs.
According to Ikhbariya TV, there were up to three explosions in the coastal town of Jableh near the local railway terminal. RIA Novosti and state TV also report a fourth explosion, at the emergency unit of a local hospital.
The blasts left over 45 people dead, police sources initially told RIA. Then the joint death toll was raised to over 100.
The town appears to have been shelled with mortar fire, according to SANA news agency.
Pictures circulating on social media appear to show plumes of smoke rising in Jableh, and several wrecked vehicles.
Three more blasts were reported in a residential area of another coastal town, Tartus, eyewitnesses told RIA Novosti.
At least 20 were killed there, SANA and RIA Novosti said citing police sources.
According to Syrian state TV, one of the Tartus explosions was a car bomb, while another was caused by a suicide bomber.
Both towns targeted by Monday attacks are close to facilities used by the Russian task force in Syria.
The port of Tartus has been used for years by the Russian Navy as a feeder base. The port has been extensively used for delivering military supplies to the Russian contingent in the country.
The Martyr Basil al-Assad International Airport, next to Jableh, has hosted Russia’s Khmeimim airbase and reconciliation center since September 2015.
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