DAMASCUS, Syria, May 23 (UPI) — At least 101 people have been killed in bombings targeting strongholds of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad along the war-torn country’s Mediterranean coast.
A suicide bomber and a car bomb detonated at a bus station within minutes of each other in the port city of Tartous. Meanwhile, several bombs exploded in the northern town of Jableh, targeting a bus station, a hospital and an electricity office.
Russia, an ally of Assad, has a base in Tartous — its only military installation along the Mediterranean Sea from where it launches airstrikes and gives aid to the Syrian regime.
The Islamic State reportedly took responsibility for the explosions that targeted “gatherings of Alawites,” in reference to the heterodox Shiite sect to which Assad belongs. The Sunni Islamic State considers Shiites to be heretics and has targeted them in its bombing campaign across Iraq and Syria.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory. The United Nations estimates up to 400,000 people may have died in the conflict died so far.