ISIL launches major offensive on Assad’s Alawite strongholds in Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2016

Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) killed at least 100 people in bombing attacks on a pair of Assad regime strongholds that had gone relatively untouched in the five-year Syrian conflict.

Syrians inspect damages after a bombing attack at a bus station in the coastal town of Tartus. /SANA via AP
Syrians inspect damages after a bombing attack at a bus station in the coastal town of Tartus. /SANA via AP

ISIL attacks on May 23 killed 53 people in the northwestern coastal city of Jableh in Latakia province and 48 were killed in the coastal city of Tartus, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

ISIL claimed through its semi-official Amaq news agency that its jihadists targeted gatherings of people from the Alawite minority sect, of which President Bashar Assad belongs to.

Syrian state television reported a that a suicide bomber and a car bomb detonated minutes apart at a bus station in Tartus, while four explosions — three rockets and one suicide bomb blast — hit a hospital and an electricity company in Jableh.

Analysts say the two cities have rarely come under attack during the conflict between regime forces and rebel and terrorist groups due to their proximity to the country’s western coast, which is heavily protected by Assad’s forces.

Tartus is also the site of a Russian naval base and Moscow has also established an air base in Latakia province.

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