Dozens killed in at­tacks on se­cu­rity of­fices in Syria

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY LOUISA LOVELUCK louisa.loveluck@wash­post.com

At least 42 peo­ple were killed Saturday in the western Syr­ian city of Homs af­ter al-Qaeda-linked mil­i­tants at­tacked two heav­ily guarded se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Human Rights, a Bri­tain-based mon­i­tor­ing net­work, said sui­cide bombers blew them­selves up and gun­men opened fire out­side the head­quar­ters of gen­eral and mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence, two of the most for­ti­fied com­plexes in the area.

An al-Qaeda-linked al­liance of rebel groups known as Tahrir al-Sham said it was re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks, which took place as Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion del­e­gates met in Geneva for the lat­est round of a stut­ter­ing peace process.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Human Rights said the bomb­ings had killed at least 42 peo­ple, all of them se­cu­rity per­son­nel, in the districts of Ghouta and Ma­hatta.

Among the dead was Gen. Has­san Dae­boul, one of the province’s most se­nior se­cu­rity of­fi­cials and the for­mer head of one of the most notorious de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties in Da­m­as­cus.

In trib­utes on Syr­ian state tele­vi­sion, the dead were de­scribed as “mar­tyrs.”

Much of Homs has been badly dam­aged in the war. By the end of a two-year siege on rebel forces hunkered down in the Old City, an es­ti­mated 200,000 peo­ple had fled, and more than 70 per­cent of the build­ings were de­stroyed.

On Saturday, ac­tivists in the fi­nal rebel-held neigh­bor­hood, al-Waer, re­ported in­tense aerial bom­bard­ment, ap­par­ently by gov­ern­ment war planes. Be­sieged by Syr­ian sol­diers and mili­ti­a­men, al-Waer has gone four months without a United Na­tions aid de­liv­ery.

The vi­o­lence took place as Syr­ian gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion del­e­gates met in Geneva for the lat­est round of talks aimed at bring­ing Syria’s six-year cri­sis to an end.

Hopes of a break­through are low, and the very ex­is­tence of a peace process has caused rebel forces in north­west­ern Syria to de­scend into in­fight­ing.

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