PHOTO: Scene at one of the bombings in Jableh and Tartous on Monday morning
UPDATE 1830 GMT: The leading rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham has issued a statement denying any connection with the Jableh and Tartous bombings.
A spokesman said, “The movement does not make such operations and can never target civilians. We did not do these operations at all.”
The faction’s foreign affairs director, Labib al-Nahhas, reiterated the message on Twitter:
1/5 #Ahrar categorically denies any links to the explosiones in Tartus & Jablah, this is not our modus operandi: we do NOT target civilians
— أبو عز الدين (@LabibAlNahhas) May 23, 2016
Nahhas noted, “Most of the victims of the Tartous and Jableh explosiones are civilians who have fled their homes in Aleppo and Hama due to Regime bombing.”
He suggested that the regime might have carried out the explosions, “Resorting to staged terrorist attacks against its own and foreign population is a regular practice for the Mafia State Regime of Assad.”
Syrian State media put out the line that Ahrar had carried out this morning’s suicide bombings, before the Islamic State took responsibility for the attacks.
UPDATE 1615 GMT: Syria’s Foreign Ministry has written letters to the UN blaming Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar for the Tartous and Jableh bombings:
These terrorist bombings constitute a serious escalation by the extremist and malicious regimes of Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha, and that they seek to undermine the efforts that aim at stopping the shedding of Syrian blood, and they also seek to derail the Geneva talks and the cessation of hostilities and truce arrangements, as well as turning attention away from the Syrian Arab Army’s achievements in the war against terrorism.
The Ministry claimed that “certain states” were “imposing a policy of silence on the Security Council”, preventing condemnation of violence and inspiring Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha “to continue directing their terrorist pawns in Syria to commit massacres against the Syrian people”.
The statement falsely said that the leading rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham had claimed responsibility for the attacks.
UPDATE 1400 GMT: The Governor of Tartous Province has implicitly confirmed reports of vigilante attacks against Syrian refugees, blaming them for the bombings in Tartous and Latakia.
The Governor appealed, “Please do not attack our guests….Terrorists are not among them.”
Reports said vigilantes attacked people in Amreet’s al-Karnak Refugee Centre, 5 miles south of Tartous, following claims that a refugee was among this morning’s bombers. Several tents were set ablaze, and casualties are reported among the refugees.
About 400 Sunni families live in the camp.
UPDATE 1200 GMT: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Jableh and Tartous bombings “once again demonstrate how fragile the situation in Syria is.”
Peskov said the situation “demonstrates the need to continue vigorous steps to continue the negotiation process.”
Asked whether Russia would reconsider President Vladimir Putin’s order in March to withdraw some of its forces, Peskov pointed to Putin’s statement that Russian bases in Syria allow for “a very flexible approach”.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement:
Another bloody act of atrocity by terrorists on the Syrian soil deserves the most decisive condemnation. It was committed with an uncovered goal — to disrupt the regime of ceasefire maintained in Syria since February 27 and in general to undermine the efforts on political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: A series of Islamic State bombings have struck the regime areas of Jableh and Tartous in western Syria.
There were four or five car and suicide bombings in Jableh and three or four in Tartous. The attacks were coordinated, and some were near Russian forces stationed in Latakia Province.
The Latakia News Agency says at least 90 people have been killed and 170 wounded in Jableh, and 36 killed and 55 wounded in Tartous. Through its Amaq news agency, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
State media reported a car bomb at Tartous bus station, with a suicide bomber inside the building. In Jableh, the bus station, national hospital, and electricity station were attacked.
#شاهد الصور الأولية الواردة لآثار التفجيرات التي ضربت الكراج الجديد بمدينة #جبلة الساحلية في #ريف_اللاذقية#اللاذقية pic.twitter.com/q1mCjcVZOJ
— مـازن علـوش (@mazenaloush) May 23, 2016
Latakia, Jableh, and Tartous are considered fundamental to the survival of the Assad regime. The President’s ancestral home is in Qardaha in eastern Latakia Province.
The attacks will challenge regime’s strategy, developed with Russia and Iran, of a secure line from Damascus to Homs to Latakia.
The Jableh national hospital:
First footage from #Jableh national hospital shows aftermath of suicide bombing, proves earlier claims pic.twitter.com/0vv7VfWZyh
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) May 23, 2016
The bus garage in Tartous:
One of the bombings in Tartous:
Remains of a car in Jableh:
Treatment of one of the wounded in Tartous: