Islamic State claims responsibility for bombings in Syria that killed at least 78


Pro-Syrian government activists turned to social media to post images of some of the dozens of people killed in Monday’s deadly blasts in Tartus and Jableh or being sought by anxious family members.

Syrian state news media showed video depicting blackened, pulverized vehicles as crews cleared away debris.

The seven explosions in the Mediterranean coast cities, strongholds of President Bashar Assad, left at least 78 people dead and many injured Monday, officials said.


The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred in areas that had been spared the worst of the five-year Syrian civil war. The coastal communities are home to many in the minority Alawite sect, whose members include Assad.

Islamic State described the attacks in a statement as a “blessed operation” that had made the Alawites “taste the death that they had often doled out to the Muslims.”

Islamic State adheres to a strict interpretation of Sunni Islamic law and views Alawites as apostates who are to be killed.

The attacks in Tartus reportedly involved a car bombing at a packed bus station and a pair of suicide bombers.

In Jableh, four attacks involved a car bomb and three suicide bombers, with the targets including the Jableh National Hospital, according to Syria’s state news agency.

Some estimates placed the number killed higher than the official figure. Pro-government community pages from the two cities, however, put the death toll at the significantly higher figure of 138 dead and 215 wounded.


A pro-opposition monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 148 people were killed in the blasts.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence in a statement on Monday, saying that “those perpetrating such attacks must be held accountable for their crimes.”

He also reiterated his call on all parties to refrain from attacks on the civilian population.

Monday’s bombings represent a serious breach of security for the Syrian government, which has long focused its security efforts on what are thought to be its heartland areas on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Dozens of checkpoints, manned by both the Syrian army and allied militiamen, scrutinize all visitors to the area.

The relative calm has made coastal cities like Tartus a destination for thousands of Syria’s internally displaced people.

Monday’s bombings show that, although Islamic State has suffered losses in territory because of government offensives in Syria and Iraq, it nevertheless is able to return to its roots as an insurgent group -- a message delivered on Saturday by Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad Adnani.


“Will we be defeated.… if [America] took Mosul, Surt or Raqqah … and we returned as we were in the beginning?” said Adnani, listing major cities in Iraq, Libya and Syria held by the extremist group. “No … defeat is losing the will and the desire to fight. And that is not possible.”

Bulos is a special correspondent.


4:50 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with Times reporting.

4:23 a.m.: This article has been was updated throughout with additional details and background.

This article was originally published at 2:49 a.m.