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Double bombing attack strikes Homs

At least 22 people have been killed in a double suicide bombing at an army checkpoint in the Syrian city of Homs, state TV reports. "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for the carnage.

Syrian state television broke into regular programming Tuesday to report that at least 22 people were dead and about 100 people injured after twin blasts struck the Al-Zahraa neighborhood of the central city of Homs.

Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV broadcast footage of the aftermath, showing extensive damage to businesses and residences around the site of the explosions.

Talal Barazi, the provincial governor of Homs, told the AFP news agency that a car bomb initially exploded, causing deaths and injuries. A crowd gathered to assist the wounded when a second blast - suspected to be from a suicide bomber - went off and increased the death toll.

Second blast caught on video

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, also reported the blasts, saying at least 26 people had been killed, among them 16 government troops.

The Al-Zahraa district has been the site of bombing before. In late December,

19 people were killed

in several simultaneous blasts.

"Islamic State" claimed responsibility for the killings.

Al-Zahraa is mostly populated by Alawites, a minority sect of Islam that includes Syria's president and his family. Homs is Syria's third largest city and was one of the first to rise against the government in 2012. Forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad have since managed to expel most opposition militants from the city.

Now in its fifth year, Syria's civil war has left more than 250,000 people dead, the majority of them civilians. It has also helped cause the greatest migration within Europe since World War II.

jar/jil (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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