London- At least 15 people including eight civilians were killed on Thursday in a car blast near the municipality stadium in Latakia’s coastal city of Jableh that includes a majority of Allawites and is the hometown of head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad’s family.
Until Thursday evening, it was still unclear whether the victims were all civilians or included members of regime forces, due to the presence of many security checkpoints in the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said security services had cordoned off the area around the stadium where the explosion took place.
Senior medical officer Ghassan Findi told state television the death toll was expected to rise with rescue operations still continuing and scores of injured still being rushed to nearby hospitals.
State television broadcasted footage from the explosion scene where back smoke came from a burning car, while bloodstains were seen on the floor next to damaged cars in the narrow street bustled with commercial shops.
Jableh’s hospital director said many among around thirty people injured were in critical condition.
“It was a strong explosion, from the nature of the wounds we received,” Qusai al Khalil told state owned Ikhbariyah.
At least 150 people were killed and 200 wounded in May when bombs hit the town and the port city of Tartous on the Mediterranean coast where Russian military bases are located.
For his part, leader of the Islamic Revolution Ali Khamenei defended on Thursday Iran’s military intervention in Syria, asserting that the target was to prevent “strife” from the depth of Iranian territories.
During a meeting with the families of Iranian commandos killed in Syria, Khamenei said Iran could have fought a war inside its borders if the enemy threats had not been thwarted in Syria.
“If the ill-wishers and seditionists, who are the puppets of the U.S. and Zionism, had not been confronted [in Syria], we should have stood against them in Tehran, Fars, Khorasan and Esfahan,” Khamenei said.