Damascus: A landmine explosion claimed the lives of at least 24 civilians in Syria’s Hama province on Sunday. The incident comes a day after thousands were evacuated from Baghouz, the last IS bastion in Syria on the east bank of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq. The Islamic State (IS) militants had reportedly planted bombs at the landmine and it had destroyed a workers’ bus near Salamiyeh town, reported Xinhua news agency. Such instances of the explosion have occurred in the past across Syria. Rebels were known for leaving bombs ahead of their defeat or withdrawal in Syria.
Meanwhile, a double bomb attack in Syria’s Idlib killed 24 people, including four children on February 18, a war monitor said. The first blast was caused by a bomb planted under a car in the jihadist-held city of the Idlib region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Soon after the arrival of ambulances at the scene of the explosion, a second bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded said a Britain-based monitoring group. The attack also left at least 51 people wounded.
Idlib is still outside the control of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The city is held by an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Idlib has been protected from a massive regime offensive since September by a buffer zone deal agreed by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey. But it has been hit by sporadic government shelling. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham took administrative control of the whole of the region last month, after overpowering smaller Turkey-backed factions. The Islamic State group also has sleeper cells in the area.
In yet another incident on January 21, a bomb blast in a bus killed three civilians in the northern Syrian city of Afrin. The blast occurred on the first anniversary of a Turkish attack on the Kurdish-majority region, observed a war monitor. Turkish troops and allied rebel groups seized the Afrin region from Kurdish forces in March last year after a two-month air and ground offensive.
(With Agency inputs)