Series of Blasts Rock Government Areas in Syria, 18 Killed

  • Explosions follow government troop advances in Aleppo
  • Islamic State group claims back-to-back suicide bombings

Islamic State bombers hit government-held territories across Syria on Monday, killing almost 50 people in rare back-to-back attacks.

According to state-run television, the coastal province of Tartus was the worst hit, with 35 killed in car and suicide bombings. Thirteen others died in attacks on a Kurdish checkpoint in the northeastern city of Hasakah, the central city of Homs, and the outskirts of Damascus, the capital. All four explosions took place within the space of about an hour.

Islamic State militants carried out the attacks, the group’s Amaq news agency reported. The blasts followed government advances in Aleppo against rebel groups that oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. and Russia have been struggling to reach an agreement that would pave the way for a cease-fire in Syria after five years of violence. Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t bridge differences with Moscow after another hour-long meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday. Russian negotiators walked back on parts of the deal that the U.S. thought had been agreed to earlier, according to a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Syria’s conflict, which began in 2011 with peaceful protests, has evolved into a sectarian civil war that has killed over 280,000 people, displaced half of its population and drawn in regional and international powers.

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