As tragically frequent as the deadly terror attacks across Iraq and Syria have become, today’s news is nonetheless particularly grim. More than 148 people were killed today in northwestern Syria, in “unprecedented” attacks — seven near-concurrent attacks on civilian sites such as hospitals and bus stations — on strongholds of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
As Yahoo News reports:
More than 148 people were killed Monday in bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in northwestern Syria, the deadliest attacks yet in the regime’s coastal heartland.
Seven near-simultaneous explosions targeted bus stations, hospitals and other civilian sites in the seaside cities of Jableh and Tartus, which until now had been relatively insulated from Syria’s five-year civil war.
The unprecedented attacks on strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime came as IS faces mounting pressure in both Syria and Iraq, where Baghdad’s forces on Monday launched a major offensive to retake the jihadist-held city of Fallujah.
A hundred people were killed in Jableh and another 48 in Tartus to the south, at least eight of them children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
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 via its Amaq news agency, saying its fighters had attacked “Alawite gatherings” in Jableh and Tartus, referring to the minority sect from which Assad hails.
The attacks began at 9:00 am local time (0600 GMT) with three explosions at a busy bus station in Tartus, where regime ally Russia has long maintained a naval facility.
The Observatory said one car bomb detonated first, and as people began to flock to the site two suicide bombers detonated explosive belts.
Approximately 15 minutes after the Tartus blasts, the explosions began in Jableh, 60 miles (40 kilometres) to the north.
The Observatory said four blasts — one car bomb and three suicide attackers — targeted a bus station, a hospital, and a power station there.
One attacker detonated explosives inside the emergency room of the state-run hospital after carrying victims of the first attack there, the monitor said.
A Kremlin spokesman condemned the attacks, saying they “demonstrate yet again how fragile the situation is in Syria and the need to take energetic measures to relaunch peace talks.”
Monday’s bombings were reminiscent of a string of attacks in 1986 in northwestern Syria — including in Tartus — that killed 144 people and which Syrian officials blamed on the regime of Saddam Hussein in neighbouring Iraq.
Against this horrific backdrop, one can’t help but think of the Obama administration’s touting as one of its “wins” for 2015 “bringing peace to Syria.” I suppose it’s akin to its “Affordable” Care Act — just exactly the opposite of what it’s purported to be.
How terribly tragic.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]