Suicide car bombs kill 120 in Syria regime bastions; Islamic State claims responsibility

Damascus, Syria: A spate of bombings in two Syrian regime stronghold cities killed at least 120 on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A news agency linked with the Islamic State group says the group's militants were behind the multiple attacks on civilian gatherings in two Syrian coastal cities.

The one-sentence report by the Islamic State-linked Aamaq news agency offered no details. The agency regularly carries the group's news and claims.

Thirty-four people were killed in three bombings - at least two of them suicide attacks - in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tartus, the monitoring group said.

Site where the suicide bombers blew themselves followed by a car bomb in a parking lot packed during morning rush hour in Tarcus on Monday. AP

Site where the suicide bombers blew themselves followed by a car bomb in a parking lot packed during morning rush hour in Tarcus on Monday. AP

Another 38 died in four bombings, three of them suicide blasts, in Jableh further north, the Observatory said.

The TV reports said at least one suicide bomber followed by a car bomb blew up minutes apart in a packed bus station in Tartus. More than 20 were killed and many injured in the bombings, an Interior Ministry official told the channel.

Separately, Syria's SANA state news agency and the state TV said four explosions rocked Jableh, south of Latakia city. The attacks included three rockets, and a suicide bomber at a city hospital, the state media said.

The attacks are a rare occurrence in the normally quiet and pro-government cities. Russia keeps a naval base in Tartus and an air base in Latakia province. Insurgents maintain a presence in rural Latakia.

Officials say government forces have pushed Islamic State militants from some agricultural areas outside the city of Fallujah at the start of a military offensive aimed at recapturing the city from the Islamic State group.

Police 1st Lt. Ahmed Mahdi Salih said on Monday that the ground fighting is taking place around the town of Garma, east of Fallujah, which is considered the main supply line to the militants. IS holds the center of Garma and some areas on its outskirts.

Col. Mahmoud al-Mardhi, who is in charge of paramilitary forces, says his troops recaptured at least three agricultural areas outside Garma.

Backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and paramilitary troops, Iraqi government forces launched the long-awaited military offensive on Fallujah late Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Yemeni security officials say that a pair of suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in the southern city of Aden.

The officials said Monday that the two bombers targeted young men seeking to join the army. One suicide car bomber targeted a line outside an army recruitment center, killing at least 20. A second bomber on foot detonated his explosive vest among a group of recruits waiting outside the home of an army commander, killing at least 25.

The Yemeni officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Yemen's conflict pits the internationally recognized government against Shiite rebels who control the capital, Saana, and are allied with a former president. The country also contains active al-Qaida and Islamic State group affiliates.

Updated Date: May 23, 2016 19:19 PM

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