Al-Qaeda branch claims Homs bombings

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iol pic wld syria conflict homs-1 AFP This photograph, taken with a smartphone, shows emergency responders gathering at the site of a car bomb attack in Syria's central city of Homs. Picture: Sam Skaine

Beirut -

Al-Qaeda's Syria branch on Monday claimed responsibility for two car bomb attacks a day earlier in the central city of Homs that - according to the governor - killed 12 people.

“God generously made it possible for the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front in Homs... to break through the strongholds of the regime's shabiha (militia)... despite the many obstacles, security barriers and checkpoints,” the jihadist group said on Twitter.

The statement also said the first car bomb was parked in the district of Zahraa, in eastern Homs, and the second in the west of the city.

Both suicide car bomb attackers, said the Al-Nusra Front, “were detonated at the same time, in order to secure the highest death toll possible”.

Homs governor Talal al-Barazi told AFP on Monday that the toll from the first car bomb attack had risen to 12 dead and 23 wounded, revising a toll he had given a day earlier of 10.

The second attack in the west of Homs wounded seven people.

Homs has seen some of the worst violence in Syria since the outbreak of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that turned into a civil war.

For almost two years, anti-regime fighters and local residents were trapped in a suffocating army siege of the Old City in the heart of Homs.

They were evacuated this month under an unprecedented deal involving a major rebel coalition and Iran, a strong backer of the Assad regime.

The end of the Old City siege brought it back under regime control, leaving only the Waer district in north-west Homs in rebel hands.

The Observatory and activists say a deal is being negotiated for a truce in Waer, which is home to hundreds of thousands of civilians. - Sapa-AFP

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