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14 killed in car bombing in central Syria

Bishkek (AKIpress) - Crime A powerful car bomb exploded Friday outside a mosque in a pro-government district of central Syria, killing 14 people in the latest violence to hit the war-shattered city, state-run Syrian television reported.

The bombing occurred as worshippers left the Bilal al-Habshi mosque on the edge of Akrama after attending Friday prayers, the report said, and also wounded at least 50 people.

The area, populated mainly by Alawites, members of President Bashar Assad's minority sect, repeatedly has been targeted by car bombs.

Opposition activists also reported the blast. The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said the explosion killed at least nine people, adding that the number likely would rise.

The attack coincides with a crushing offensive by government forces aimed at retaking the last rebel bastions in the historic quarters of the old city of Homs. The last few days have seen some of the fiercest fighting there in months, the Associated Press said. 

Friday, a military official quoted by the state-run news agency said troops seized several buildings in the Wadi al-Sayeh area, including the landmark St. George church.

The old neighborhoods of Homs, a city often referred to as the capital of the revolution, is the last major stronghold for rebels in central Syria. Their fight to take it underscores how emboldened Syrian forces have become, bolstered by fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.


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