50 killed in suicide bombings targeting Syrian military HQs in Homs – state media

50 killed in suicide bombings targeting Syrian military HQs in Homs – state media
A total of 50 people have been killed and 24 others injured in several suicide bombings outside Syrian military facilities in the city of Homs, according to SANA, with Damascus saying the attacks were aimed at undermining the Geneva peace talks.

Six simultaneous suicide bombings targeted two security centers and surrounding areas in Homs earlier Saturday, the official SANA news agency reported, citing the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

Syrian Army General Hassan Daaboul, the chief of the province’s military security unit, is said to be among the victims.

Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi told Syria’s Al-Ikhbariya TV that the security service’s local HQ and the military intelligence building had been the terrorists’ targets.

“The security detail repelled the attack and prevented the militants from breaking into the buildings, but the terrorists managed to detonate their explosive devices,” Al-Barazi said.

The Al-Nusra Front terror group, which now calls itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and Security Council (UNSC), pointing out that “this terrorist act of aggression comes with the start of the third day of the talks called for by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, and it aims at undermining the positive results achieved at the first and second meetings in Astana.”

“This dangerous development necessitates that [not only UN Secretary General and UNSC, but] also the Special Envoy condemn this act of terror and that all the factions participating in Geneva talks, without exception, condemn such terrorist attacks,” the ministry said, as cited by SANA.

Damascus stressed that the “moment of truth” has come “to double efforts to unite the international community in its fight against terrorism and punish the countries supporting it.”

The Syrian government negotiator in Geneva, Bashar Jaafari, also said that “the terrorist explosions that hit Homs city are a message to Geneva from sponsors of terrorism, and we tell everyone that the message is received and this crime won't pass unnoticed.”

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Ahead of his meeting with Jaafari, de Mistura expressed hope that the events in Homs won’t affect the Geneva negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition.

“Every time we have talks, or negotiations, there is always someone who tries to spoil… I am expecting (it), unfortunately, spoilers,” the UN envoy to Syria said as cited by Reuters.

De Mistura, who earlier talked to the opposition, is meeting with the Damascus delegation in Geneva on Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, the Syrian government delegation received a procedural paper from the envoy, where he presented his vision of the format of the talks.

According to Sputnik’s sources, de Mistura suggested creating three working groups for the discussion of each of the key issues, including governance, constitution and elections.

The Homs blasts come as Syrian army units continue to move eastward in a bid to retake the ancient city of Palmyra, located in Homs province. On Friday, the troops defeated Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) as well as Al Nusra Front militants near the mountain of Al-Hayal, which overlooks Palmyra’s western neighborhoods, SANA reported.

READ MORE: New round of Syria talks kicks off in Geneva on back of Astana progress

Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, was where anti-government riots began in 2011. Syrian forces recaptured the opposition stronghold after a major push in late 2015, when rebels withdrew from the last district under their control, leaving the city fully in the hands of the government.