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Multiple blasts in Syria kill at least 140

February 21, 2016

Bomb attacks in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs have claimed over 130 lives and wounded dozens. "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for both attacks, while world leaders have talked up truce prospects.

Syrien Bombenanschlag in Homs
Image: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

The death toll continues to rise following a series of deadly bomb blasts across Syria on Sunday. The latest attacks occurred in a southern suburb of Damascus, pro-government media and a monitoring group reported.

At least 130 people have been killed in Damascus.

"The attacks came as pupils were leaving school, and several of them were killed," Syria's state broadcaster reported, adding that more than 200 people had been wounded.

The UK-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that there were four attacks.

"There was a car bomb and two suicide bombers who blew themselves up. We don't know the cause of the fourth explosion," the Observatory said.

The Damascus attacks took place in the Sayidda Zeinab district, which is home to Syria's holiest Shiite shrine.

The militant Sunni "Islamic State" (IS) group claimed responsibility for both the Damascus and Homs bombings, Amaq News Agency reported.

Last month, a triple explosion in Sayyida Zeinab killed 45 people.

Syrien Bombenanschlag in Homs
The aftermath of the Homs bombingImage: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Horror in Homs

Earlier on Sunday, massive twin blasts in Homs killed 59 people, including 39 civilians. The bombs sent up a billow of black smoke and debris in Homs' Zahraa neighborhood (photo).

Many inhabitants in the area are members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect.

The city is a frequent target of attacks by IS and the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra front. Sunday's attack came as government and allied forces advance on IS territory.

US claims 'provisional' ceasefire

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday a truce for the Syrian civil war could possibly come into effect within days. His remarks were made prior to the massive attacks.

Kerry said he had reached a "provisional agreement in principle" after speaking with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on terms for a ceasefire.

Kerry said that the truce "could begin in the coming days," but cautioned that the deal was "not yet done."

"I anticipate that our presidents ... may well speak somewhere in the next days or so in order to try and bring this to pass," Kerry said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Kerry and Lavrov had spoken about the "modality and terms for truce in Syria, with the exception for the operation against terrorists."

However, Moscow did not say that a deal was close at hand.

The US top diplomat's comments came two days after the temporary cessation of hostilities agreed to by world powers at the Munich Security Conference a week ago was originally due to go into effect.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)