BEIRUT: A car bomb in Homs in central Syria killed six people in an Alawite-majority neighbourhood of the city, a monitoring group said yesterday as state media gave a lower toll.
The attack is the second of its kind in a week, and comes just over a month after rebels lost their bastion in the heart of Homs city to regime control.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six people were killed in the attack and nine seriously wounded, adding that it expected the death toll to rise.
State television put the death toll at three, and said women and children were among the nine wounded in what it called a “terrorist car bomb attack in the Akrameh district.
Elsewhere, warplanes launched 25 air strikes on Mleiha southeast of Damascus, a key rebel bastion that the regime has struggled for weeks to recapture, the Observatory said.
Regime ground forces also fired surface-to-surface missiles at the Mleiha as troops backed by Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah battled rebels and their jihadist Al Nusra Front allies, said the monitor.
The Assad regime in late spring began a bid to retake Mleiha, which is strategically located near the airport road and in the besieged rebel region of Eastern Ghouta.
Meanwhile, activists in the rebel-held Al Hajar Al Aswad neighbourhood in southern Damascus accused the regime of cutting off water supplies for more than two weeks.
“Some 20,000 people live here, mostly women and children. The regime wants to pressure civilians into forcing rebels to sign a truce with the army,” activist Rami Al Sayed said.
“People are suffering from inflammations and digestive system diseases because they are drinking dirty water from wells,” he added.
On another front, an armed group allied to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Wednesday kidnapped two Syrian rebel commanders in Deir Ezzor province.