Car bomb hits Syria regime stronghold Latakia

Car bomb hits Syria regime stronghold Latakia

Damascus: A car bomb shook the Syrian regime’s coastal stronghold of Latakia on Tuesday, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others, state news agency SANA reported.

Authorities found a second explosive device in the same place and defused it just before it was due to blow up, it said.

The other bomb exploded in the city’s Al-Hammam square, according to SANA, which published video footage showing a burnt-out car surrounded by firefighters and soldiers.

“The terrorist explosion caused the death of one civilian and wounded 14 others,” it said, citing a top health official in the province.

Earlier it had reported that the person killed was the driver of the vehicle.

Most of those wounded were hit by shrapnel, the director of the city’s Tishrin hospital, Louay Naddaf, told state television.

Latakia is the fiefdom of President Bashar al-Assad’s family.

The city, the capital of Latakia province located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, has largely escaped the violence that has devastated other regions of Syria since the conflict began in 2011.

But the province has been targeted by “sporadic strikes” by rebels or jihadists, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

The region abuts the last major area outside of the regime’s control and which includes much of Idlib province as well as adjacent parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces.

Earlier this month an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate took administrative control of the whole of the opposition bastion under a deal with rival rebels.

According to the Observatory, Tuesday’s blast in Latakia was caused by an explosive device hidden inside the car or near it.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the driver was not a suicide attacker.

In September 2015 a car bomb had exploded in the same square, killing dozens of people.

The latest explosion comes days after a blast — the first in more than a year — hit Damascus which has also been largely insulated from the war.

According to SANA the bomb blast hit southern Damascus without causing any victims, but the Observatory reported it left a number of people dead and wounded.

Syria is locked in a civil war that has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011 spiralled into full conflict.

With key military backing from Russia, Assad’s forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and jihadists, and now control almost two-thirds of the country.

The regime in May reclaimed a final scrap of territory held by the Islamic State group in southern Damascus, cementing total control over the capital for the first time in six years.