The U.S. might be closer than ever to a truce with Russia in war-torn Syria. Even as senior leaders discussed ceasefire, ISIS militants conducted a series of suicide bombings in the region, killing nearly 130 civilians.
Even as Washington and Moscow appear to be reaching a truce and are working to secure a ceasefire, string of suicide bombings near a Shiite shrine outside Syria’s capital and in Homs killed 127 people on Sunday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the barrage of bombings and promised there would be a lot more such attacks in the days to come.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday an agreement on ceasefire had been reached on the terms of a truce in Syria’s brutal five-year conflict. He added that the deal was imminent, but only awaited a conversation between the two leaders of the countries that have separately led a war on the ISIS militants in Syria. Kerry said conversation between President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin was needed to iron out a few critical details, before the truce would come into effect.
“We have reached a provisional agreement, in principle, on the terms of the cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days. It is not yet done and I anticipate that our presidents, President (Barack) Obama and President (Vladimir) Putin, may well speak somewhere in the next days or so in order to try to complete this task.”
Kerry’s announcement came at the end of a day of a series of high profile meetings in Jordan. But mere hours after the announcement, multiple suicide attacks rocked the central city of Homs and a suburb of the capital, Damascus. The attacks have so far claimed about 127 lives and left several dozen wounded.
One of the suicide bombings was carried out in an area of Homs where many Alawites, the sect of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, live and work, reported The New York Times. This is a second attack in as many months. Another targeted attack took place near Damascus. The car used for the attack was stuffed with high-power explosives. The suicide bomber driving the car must have been instructed to drive straight through the road that leads to the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab.
The explosion that ripped through the area was so powerful, it instantly killed about 68 people and injured many. While reports remain sketchy, about 60 shops and small establishments were eviscerated and cars were reduced to a mangled heap of metal. Incidentally, the same place had suffered a very similar attack in January. In separate but connected coordinated attacks, two car bombs were used in the pro-regime district of Al-Zahraa in the central city of Homs, reported Yahoo.
ISIS released an online statement that claimed responsibility for all the car bombs and suicide bomber attacks. The group added that two jihadists drove explosive-laden cars into crowds of local residents, while two other suicide bombers carried out the Sayyida Zeinab bombings.
It is clear the ISIS group is increasingly targeting not just the Shiites, but also their religious places. The shrine of Sayyida Zeinab contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and is considered very holy by the Shiites.
Despite the increasing acts of violence conducted by ISIS militants, it seems the world leaders have been insisting on a halt in fighting in Syria, reported Al Jazeera. On one hand is the coalition force led by the United States which is on a “Crusader Campaign” to neutralize ISIS militants. It has routinely carried out airstrikes and attempted to destroy not just the strongholds of the militant group, but also its cash stockpiles and sources of revenue. On the other hand, Russia has been assisting the official government of Syria, led by Bashar al-Assad.
Despite the seemingly good intentions by both the sides, the conflict has cost more than 260,000 lives so far. Will the ceasefire embolden ISIS?
[Photo by Zein al-Rifai/Getty Images]