The Latest: IS claims twin Hama suicide bombings


BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

5 p.m.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency reports that the extremist group has claimed responsibility for suicide attacks in the central Syrian city of Hama that killed two people and wounded 12.

The attack was carried out by two suicide bombers wearing explosives-laden belts near the ruling Baath party office and a police station, Aamaq reported on Monday.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported earlier in the day that two suicide bombings had struck the central city of Hama killing two people and wounding at least 12.

SANA said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed belt in al-Assi Square in Hama city, and that the other suicide bombing occurred 15 minutes later.

Hama is Syria’s fourth-largest city and has seen relatively little fighting in recent years as the country’s conflict rages on. It is firmly under the control of Assad’s forces.

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3:10 p.m.

Syria’s state news agency says two suicide bombings that struck in the central city of Hama have killed two people and wounded at least 12.

SANA says a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed belt in al-Assi Square in Hama city on Monday, while the other suicide bombing occurred 15 minutes later.

SANA says one of the agency’s photographers, Ibrahim Ajaj, was wounded as he was covering the explosions, adding that he is in stable condition.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the two explosions killed two people and wounded 14.

Hama is Syria’s fourth largest city and has been relatively quiet in recent years. It is firmly under the control of Assad’s forces.

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2:10 p.m.

Syrian state TV says a suicide attacker wearing an explosives belt has blown himself up on a main square in the central city of Hama, causing an unspecified number of casualties.

The TV says the attack occurred on Monday near the busy Assi Square in Hama. It gave no further details.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two explosions were heard in Hama.

Hama is Syria’s fourth largest city and has been relatively quiet in recent years. It is firmly under the control of President Bashar Assad’s forces.

The suicide attack came as insurgent groups have been on the offensive north of the city, which is the capital of the province that carries the same name.

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1:50 p.m.

Qatar says it has closed a health center it was running in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo after the facility was struck by bombs over the weekend.

The Qatar Red Crescent says four bombs were dropped from a helicopter on the hospital in the rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour on Saturday.

QRS said on Monday that the attack killed two patients, wounded eight and destroyed half the center. Initially, the Qataris had reopened the facility, which was originally built by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, in April.

Dr. Hashem Darwish, the head of the health program at the QRCS’s mission in Turkey, called the attack a war crime.

The QRC statement came two days after doctors and activists said bombing had put the hospital known as M10 out of service.

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11:40 a.m.

A relief group and Syrian opposition monitors say airstrikes have damaged and put of service one of the country’s most secure hospitals, which had been dug into a mountain.

The International Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, or UOSSM, says the Dr. Hasan Al-Araj — also known as “Cave Hospital” and located in the central province of Hama — was struck twice on Sunday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that Russian warplanes carried out the attacks that hit the hospital near the central village of Kfar Zeita, adding that it’s one of the largest hospitals in rebel-held areas of the country.

UOSSM said there were minor injuries from the attack.

Syrian and Russian warplanes have been blamed for a series of attacks that have damaged hospitals and clinics in rebel-held parts of Syria, mostly in the northern city Aleppo.

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11 a.m.

Turkish military officials say 15 Syrian opposition fighters have been killed in an ongoing battle with Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

The officials also say that about 35 Syrian rebels have been wounded in the fighting, which seeks to capture seven residential districts south of the town of al-Rai. According to a statement emailed Monday, “intense” clashes had taken place in the regions of Boztepe, Hardanah and Turkmen Bari.

The statement says the casualties took place over the last 24 hours.

Turkey sent troops and tanks into Syria in August to help Syrian rebels re-take IS strongholds near the border and curb the advance of Syrian Kurdish militia, which Ankara accuses of links with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdish rebels.

Turkish officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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