x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Syria violence kills nine, two car bombs reported

Nine civilians and two rebels were killed today in violence across Syria, while car bombs exploded in the northwest city of Idlib and the capital Damascus, monitors reported.

Nine civilians and two rebels were killed early today in violence across Syria, while car bombs exploded in the northwest city of Idlib and the capital Damascus, monitors reported.

The car bomb in Idlib city targeted a military checkpoint, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a number of soldiers were killed or wounded in the blast. No further details were immediately available.

In Damascus, a car bomb exploded early morning in a suburb that houses a popular Shiite shrine, wounding two people, Syrian state media reported.

The blast in the Sayyida Zeinab neighbourhood occurred near the Sadr hospital, leaving a large crater and damaging vehicles.

State news agency SANA said the booby-trapped vehicle was parked in a garage. It gave an initial toll of two people wounded.

The Observatory said meanwhile that clashes between regime troops and rebels erupted early morning in the central city of Homs, where four people were killed before dawn, including three civilians and a rebel fighter.

It added that Ahmed Bahbouh, the head of the rebel military office in Rastan and a leading dissident figure, was killed in violent clashes with government forces in Homs province, the watchdog said.

A civilian was killed in crossfire as rebel fighters and government troops clashed at the entrances of the rebel-held town, which the regime has been trying to overrun for months.

In the southern city of Daraa five people were killed before dawn, including four in the neighbourhood of Tareek Al-Sad, which was heavily shelled by regime troops, the Observatory said.

"Government forces have surrounded the neighbourhood of Tareek Al-Sad in preparation to storm the area", it said.

At least 77 people were killed across Syria yesterday, including 49 civilians, 21 soldiers and seven rebels, the watchdog said.

Well over 14,000 people have been killed in the 15-month revolt in Syria, the majority of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

The escalation in violence follows an assessment by UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Tuesday that Syria was now locked in fullscale civil war, with regime forces having lost control of "large chunks of territory."