DAMASCUS, Syria: At least 30 people were killed, including a branch director of the feared Military Intelligence services, in a pair of attacks on two security locations in the central Syrian city of Homs on Saturday, state media and officials reported.
At least six assailants attacked the two security compounds the al-Ghouta and al-Mahata neighborhoods of the city, clashing with security officers before at least two of them detonated explosive vests, killing 30 people, according to state TV and state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV. The two buildings are two kilometers (1.2 miles) apart.
The governor of Homs Province, Talal Barzani, told The Associated Press there were three blasts in total, killing more than 32 people. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 42 security officers were killed.
The differing casualty estimates could not be immediately reconciled, but such differences are common in the aftermath of violence in Syria.
The Observatory said the branches of the General Security and the Military Intelligence services were targeted in the attacks. Ikhbariyah TV reported that Maj. Gen Hassan Daeboul, head of the local Military Intelligence branch, was killed.
The Syrian security forces run a vast intelligence network that is largely unaccountable to the traditional military and judicial hierarchies. The various branches are implicated in some of the more shadowy crimes associated with the six-year-long Syrian civil war, including mass arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and firing on protesters.
The human rights watchdog Amnesty International reported in February that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were killed in regular mass hangings in the military’s Saydnaya prison in Damascus between 2011 and 2015, according to forensic research and interviews with security and judicial officials. It said the detainees were sent to the prison from around the country by the state’s four main security branches, including the Military Intelligence and General Security branches.
Homs is Syria’s third-largest city and largely in the control of the government. -AP