University students believed to be among casualties
Eight people were killed and 18 wounded in the bombing of a bus in Syria’s city of Homs on Tuesday.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bomb, asserting that 11 regime troops were slain.
Officials in the Homs health authority reported the casualties from an attack in the Ekrama neighborhood near al-Baath University.
Many of the bus passengers were university students, Homs Governor Talal Barazi said. Pro-regime outlets said the driver of the bus was a member of the paramilitary Tiger Forces who was “on leave”.
A reporter for State media said cars, shops, and infrastructure were damaged. Footage from State TV showed people crowding around the site of the explosion.
ISIS also claimed responsibility for a bombing which killed four people and wounded 32 in Homs in May.
Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, was one of the sites of the largest protests in the 2011 uprising against the Assad regime. Regime forces claimed most of Homs in early 2012 after weeks of airstrikes and shelling that destroyed much of the city and killed hundreds of civilians. The opposition held out in the besieged section of al-Wa’er until April, when residents, displaced people, and rebels were forcibly removed.
Geneva Talks Resume After Regime Walkout
UN-backed peace talks in Geneva resumed on Tuesday without the Assad regime’s delegation, which walked out on Friday.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee to review his approach in four areas: governance, a new Constitution, elections, and “fighting terrorism”.
The regime’s representatives, led by UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, quit the discussions after only three days, repeating their demand that the future of Bashar al-Assad must not be mentioned. Ja’afari criticized De Mistura’s conduct of the indirect negotiations.
De Mistura has announced before the walkout that the talks would be extended to December 15.
Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime, said its delegation was not expected to leave Damascus either Tuesday or Wednesday and that a return to the talks “is still being studied by the Syrian leadership”.
The head of the High Negotiations Committee, Nasr al-Hariri, said, “Now it is the responsibility of the international community, of the UN and the Special Envoy to announce to the world who is the party who is rejecting the negotiations.”
State Department Condemns Regime’s Deadly East Ghouta Attacks
The US has condemned the Assad regime’s ongoing, deadly attacks and tightening siege on the East Ghouta area near Damascus.
Despite a de-escalation zone agreed between Russia and rebels this summer, pro-Assad forces — reportedly including Russian warplanes at times — have killed an estimated 200 people in the last three weeks.
Meanwhile the area’s residents, estimated at 390,000, are at increasing risk of malnutrition and death from medical conditions because of the regime’s escalation of the four-year siege with the closure of tunnels and a key checkpoint and the refusal of aid deliveries to the aid. The UN has warned of a “complete catastrophe”.
We’d like to strongly condemn the recent attacks and the continued siege on the people of Eastern Ghouta in Syria by the Assad regime with support from Russia.
Deliberate tactics to starve Syrian civilians, including women and children; block humanitarian and medical aid; bomb hospitals, medical personnel, and first responders in eastern Ghouta – we consider that to be deeply troubling. The lives of Syrian children and families are not political tools, and we call on the international community to swiftly condemn those horrific acts.
Nauert called on Russia to “live up to its obligations to uphold the de-escalation zone…and to end all further attacks against civilians in Syria”.