A series of suicide attacks on military installations in the regime-held Homs city have left dozens of soldiers killed including a top military chief, while Tahrir al-Sham group declared its responsibility for the attack.
Saturday’s attack in Homs began with clashes near a branch of military security in al-Mahatta district and a branch of state security in al-Ghouta district before suicide bombers struck in both locations, state media reported.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday that loud explosions and gunfire were heard following the assault in Homs.
“There were at least six attackers and several of them blew themselves up near the headquarters of state security and military intelligence,” Rami Abdel Rahman, SOHR’s director, told AFP news agency.
Bombers engaged in prolonged gun battles with intelligence officers before detonating their explosive vests.
The head of military security, General Hassan Daaboul, was killed along with 29 others in al-Mahatta, while another 12 people were killed in al-Ghouta, the Observatory said. State media gave a lower figure of 32 people killed.
A witness was quoted as saying a suicide bomber actually made it into Daaboul’s office and detonated the explosives.
Brigadier Ibrahim Darwish, head of the State Security Branch, was also critically wounded, state-affiliated Al Ikhbariya TV reported.
Well-known detention centers
The attacks hit the heavily guarded Ghouta and Mahatta neighborhoods and security forces locked down the city center.
The both branches attacked are well-known as detention centers for Syrians who are accused of opposing the regime. Thousands of cases of inhuman detention, torture to death and executions were reported by activist and Syrians in these two branches.
This attack comes as the regime forces intensified its offensive on al-Waer neighborhood, the latest rebel-held area in Homs. In addition, it is suspected to affect the ongoing Syria peace talks in Geneva.
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The insurgent alliance known as Tahrir al-Sham declared that it was behind this attack.
“Five suicide bombers attacked two branches of state security and military security in Homs… thanks be to God,” Tahrir al-Sham said in a statement on the Telegram social network.
Tahrir al-Sham was formed earlier this year from several groups including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was formerly known as the Nusra Front and was al Qaeda’s Syrian branch until it broke formal allegiance to the global jihadist movement in 2016.
Homs has been under the full control of the government since May 2014 when rebels withdrew from the city center under a UN-brokered truce.
But the city has seen repeated bombings since then. A double bombing killed 64 people early last year.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.