The Syrian government says the attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers that hit the Syrian western city of Homs won’t go unpunished.
Bashar al-Jaafari, head of the Syrian government delegation in UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, said the attacks were a clear message from sponsors of terrorism.
The attacks early Saturday targeted security offices in central Homs’ Ghouta and al-Mahatta districts, leaving dozens dead.
Jihadist group Tahrir al-Sham – formed this year from several groups, including al-Qaida’s former Syrian branch, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – claimed responsibility for the attacks in a brief statement on the Internet.
High-ranking military and police officials – including provincial army intelligence chief General Hassan Daabul, according to Syrian state-run media – were among the dead.
The Syrian government demanded that the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and all members of the opposition delegation condemn the attacks in Homs, warning that any party that did not do so would be regarded as a terrorism accomplice.
“Of course we condemn terrorism, as we’ve done on numerous occasions,” the head of the Syrian opposition delegation at the peace talks, Nasr al-Hariri, said on Saturday.
He also pledged that the opposition would not withdraw from the diplomatic process despite the series of attacks that have sparked fears of an end to the truce that has generally held since late December.
One member of the opposition delegation at the peace talks in Geneva, however, said there was reason to suspect the government had a role in the Homs attacks.
“It’s strange that this could have happened in an area with such a high level of security,” Colonel Fateh Hassoun, a representative of an armed faction in Syria, said.