The southern suburb of Sayyida Zeinab hit in the capital, home to most important Shiite temple in the country. In Homs Alawite districts loyal to the president targeted. Assad appeals to refugees, inviting them to return to Syria. US and Russia announce a "provisional agreement" for a partial truce.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The death toll from a series of bomb attacks yesterday in Damascus, the capital of Syria, and the city of Homs has risen to 140 people. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted the southern suburb of Sayyida Zeinab in the capital, killing about 83 people. Earlier, two car bombs had exploded in Homs killing 57 people, mostly civilians.
Both areas of yesterday’s attacks are inhabited mostly by non-Sunni Muslim minorities, subjected to Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS]violence and persecution of in Syria and Iraq.
While the Islamic State continues to sow violence and terror, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has appealed to all refugees who have fled the country telling them that they should not be afraid to come home. Long accused of persecuting his own people, the Syrian leader stressed that those who have left the nation "for the drastic deterioration of living conditions" are free to return without any fear of reprisal from the government. "We want people - said Assad – to take refuge in Syria."
The war in Syria flared up in March 2011 after a popular protest motion against President Bashar al-Assad was transformed into a widespread conflict with extremist Islamic tendencies and jihadist movements. Thus far it has caused over 260 thousand deaths.
It has also given rise to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history, forcing 4.6 million Syrians to seek shelter abroad, especially in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Hundreds of thousands have tried to reach Europe, crossing the Mediterranean at the cost of their lives.
According to reports from Sana state agency yesterday’s explosions in Sayyida Zeinab caused 83 deaths and 178 injured. The southern Damascus district is the most important Shiite shrine in the country, which houses the remains of the great-grandson of the prophet Muhammad. Local sources said that the bombers detonated a car bomb, then activated explosive belts.
Already last month the district suffered attacks that killed 71 people, again at the hands of IS jihadists. Explosions in Homs, once considered the "capital of the revolution" have targeted the majority Alawite district, the sect of origin of the Assad family. The rebels left the city this year as a result of a cease fire agreement, leaving the area in the hands of government soldiers.
Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced the achievement of an "interim agreement" with Russia for a partial truce. However, there are still many unresolved issues and there are few expectations of immediate changes on the ground. Earlier this month the world powers involved in the crisis in Syria had agreed on a "cessation of hostilities", but the 19 February deadline passed without any tangible results. Shared from AsiaNewsIT