A suicide assault on two security service bases in Homs, Syria’s third largest city, killed on Saturday dozens of people, including a senior officer.
Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front claimed the spectacular attack which targeted and killed General Hassan Daaboul, a close confidant of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.
Daaboul is the head of the local military security branch.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 people were killed when the bombers targeted the headquarters of state security and military intelligence in the heavily guarded Ghouta and Mahatta neighborhoods in the western city of Homs.
Provincial governor Talal Barazi said 30 people were killed and 24 wounded.
State television confirmed Daabul’s death, saying that the general had been specifically targeted by one of the suicide bombers.
The bombers engaged in prolonged gun battles with intelligence officers before blowing themselves up.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said they lasted two hours.
Fateh al-Sham said five of its militants took part in the assault. State television and the Observatory spoke of six bombers.
Homs has been under the full control of the regime since May 2014 when rebels withdrew from the center under a U.N.-brokered truce deal. But it has seen repeated bombings since then.
Like its jihadist rival ISIS, Fateh al-Sham is not party to a ceasefire between regime forces and rebel groups taking part in the Geneva talks.
Despite renouncing links with Al-Qaeda last year, it remains blacklisted as a “terrorist” group by the United Nations and Western governments.
The Homs attack came after ISIS claimed a Friday suicide bombing that killed 51 people outside the northern town of Al-Bab, which Turkish-backed rebels said this week they had taken from the jihadists.