Date
22 January 2017
Syrian army soldiers and civilians inspect the site of multiple bomb blasts that hit the Sayeda Zeinab area in southern Damascus. Photo: Reuters
Syrian army soldiers and civilians inspect the site of multiple bomb blasts that hit the Sayeda Zeinab area in southern Damascus. Photo: Reuters

Bomb blasts kill 140 in two Syrian cities

At least 140 people are dead after bomb blasts ripped through the the Syrian cities of Homs and Damascus.

Four blasts struck the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab Sunday, killing at least 83 people, BBC News reports, citing state media.

Earlier in Homs, 57 people, mainly civilians, were killed in a double car bombing, according to a monitoring group.

Islamic State (ISIS) said it carried out the attacks in both cities.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said a “provisional agreement” has been reached with Russia on a partial truce in the conflict.

Both  attacks targeted areas dominated by minorities within Islam reviled by the Sunni Muslim radicals of ISIS.

In Damascus, at least four explosions were reported in Sayyida Zeinab, the location of Syria’s holiest Shia Muslim shrine, said to contain the grave of the Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter.

The state-run SANA news agency reported at least 83 dead and 178 wounded.

The AMAQ news agency, which is linked to Islamic State, said ISIS militants had detonated a car bomb and then blown up explosive belts.

The district was hit by suicide attacks last month that left 71 people dead and which IS fighters also said they had carried out.

In Homs, the blasts happened in a predominantly Alawite district, the sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

Syrian state TV footage showed debris and mangled vehicles.

One of the early centers of the uprising against President Assad, Homs was once dubbed the “capital of the revolution”.

But rebels left the city late last year under a ceasefire deal, leaving the city in government hands.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also said that at least 50 Islamic State fighters had been killed in an advance by government troops, backed by Russian air strikes, east of the northern city of Aleppo in the past 24 hours.

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