DAMASCUS, May 24, (APP): Deadliest attacks in Syria kill more than 148
More than 148 people were killed Monday in bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in northwestern Syria , the deadliest attacks to date in the regime's coastal heartland.
Seven near-simultaneous explosions targeted bus stations, hospitals and other civilian sites in the seaside cities of Jableh and Tartus , which until now had been relatively insulated from Syria 's five-year war.
The attacks on strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad 's regime came as IS faces mounting pressure in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, where a major offensive to retake the jihadist-held city of Fallujah is underway.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said they were "without a doubt the deadliest attacks" on the two cities since the start of the war.
IS claimed the blasts in a statement, saying they were in retaliation for Syrian regime and Russian air strikes against the jihadists and vowed to carry out "more devastating and bitter attacks".
But IS, notorious for using deadly sleeper cells to attack its enemies, suggested the creation of a "wilayat al-Sahel" or Islamic province for the coastal area.
"I'm shocked, this is the first time I hear sounds like this," said Mohsen Zayyoud, a 22-year-old student in Jableh .