Islamic State Claims Syria Explosions That Killed Dozens
A string of explosions claimed by Islamic State, killed at least 48 people and wounded dozens more in Syria Monday, a day after the militant group lost the last stretch of the Syria-Turkey border under its control.
The blasts hit the government controlled cities of Homs and Tartus, the Kurdish-held city of Hasakeh, and the countryside of Damascus.
"Clearly these attacks were simultaneous and they all targeted security posts," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which maintains a network of contacts inside the country.
The deadliest blasts were in Tartus, where state television reported two terrorist bombings on Arzuna bridge, killing at least 35 people and wounding 43. The report said the first blast was caused by a car bomb and the second was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives when people gathered to help the wounded.
The conflict in Syria, which is complicated by U.S. and Russian support for opposite sides has left more than 290,000 people dead and forced millions from their homes since March 2011.
US, Laos Open New Ties With Desire to 'Heal Wounds of the Past'
The White House said Tuesday the United States and Laos have opened a new era in their relations based on mutual respect and "a shared desire to heal the wounds of the past."
An announcement of a new partnership on issues of the economy, technology, education, security, the environment and human rights followed a meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Bounnhang Vorachit in Vientiane.
Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Laos, and announced Tuesday a three-year, $90 million contribution to Laos for a national survey of unexploded ordnance and efforts to clear the bombs dropped by U.S. forces in the 1960s and 1970s. About one-third of the 2.2 million bombs dropped on Laos remain undenotated and the lingering threat has slowed development in the country.
The White House said Obama expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of Laos in working to account for U.S. personnel who went missing during the war.
Laos, which currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has been criticized for its human rights record. Obama and Vorachit noted in their meeting Tuesday "the benefits of a candid and open dialogue" to narrow differences on rights.
Obama is seeking to reassure nations in Southeast Asia that the U.S. is firmly committed to its rebalance to the region. He will seek to further deepen ties and boost America's influence in the region as he attends the ASEAN summit and the East Asia summit this week.