At least nine people were killed in a car blast on Thursday in the centre of the Syrian town of Jableh in the coastal Mediterranean province of Latakia where two Russian bases are located, state television said.
State media said scores of cars were on fire and shops were also damaged by the blast in a bustling commercial part of the town that lies in President Bashar al Assad’s minority Alawite sect’s heartland.
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 showed footage of mangled cars and shutters of shops damaged and blown apart as rescue workers cleared the debris amid a heavy security presence in the bustling commercial area near a popular vegetable market and a garage depot.
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 that hosts Russian military bases.
Islamic State claimed the May attacks in a statement posted online saying its fighters had targeted “gatherings of Alawites”. Hardline Sunni militants consider Alawites heretics.