A series of rare explosions killed more than 120 people in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous on Monday, monitors said, in a regime-controlled area that hosts Russian forces.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Mediterranean cities that have up to now escaped the worst of the conflict, saying it was targeting supporters of Bashar Assad, the head of the Syrian regime.
The one-sentence report by the ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency, which routinely carries the group’s news and claims, offered no details.
Russia was quick to express concern.
The Kremlin said that rising tension in the country underscored the need to continue the Syria peace talks.
Fighting has increased in other parts of Syria in recent weeks as world powers struggle to revive a threadbare ceasefire in western Syria and after peace talks in Geneva this year broke down.
Scores were wounded in at least five suicide attacks and two car bombs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, the first assaults of their kind in Tartous, where regime ally Russia maintains a naval facility, and Jableh.
State media confirmed the attacks but gave a lower toll.
State media reported that a car bomb and two suicide bombers attacked a petrol station in Tartous. In Jableh, one of the four blasts hit near a hospital, state media and the Observatory reported.
The Observatory said at least 53 people were killed in Jableh, and 48 in Tartous.
The interior ministry said in a statement more than 20 people had been killed, and one state media outlet put the death toll at 45 people.
Bombings in the capital Damascus and western city Homs earlier this year killed scores and were claimed by ISIS, which is fighting against regime forces and their allies in some areas, and separately against its jihadist rival al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups.
Russia, which intervened in the Syrian war in support of Assad in September 2015, operates an air base at Hmeymim in Latakia and a naval facility at Tartous.
Latakia city, which is north of Jableh and capital of the province that is Assad’s heartland, has been targeted on a number of occasions by bombings and insurgent rocket attacks.
“We will not be deterred … we will use everything we have to fight the terrorists,” said Syrian Cabinet minister Omran al-Zoubi on Syrian TV.