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Car bomb kills two in Latakia

This frame grab from video provided on Aug. 13, 2017, by the Ghouta Media Center, a Syrian activist media group, shows smoke and debris rising after a Syrian government ground-to-ground rocket strikes the opposition-held town of Ain Terma, in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, Syria. (AP)
BEIRUT: Activists say a car bomb has killed two people in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The pro-government Latakia News Network Facebook page said the car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint on Saturday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack.
The government has sought to present the country as slowly returning to normalcy after six years of war.
It held a premier trade fair in the capital, Damascus, last week for the first time since 2011.
But fighting is still underway in several parts of the country, and the attack in Latakia, which has been firmly under government control throughout the conflict, highlighted the lingering instability.
The regime’s forces said on Friday that Russian warplanes were supporting the regime’s offensive against Daesh in a town in central Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the army was now completing the push to encircle Daesh terrorists in the town of Akerbat in Hama province.
Syrian troops have seized key heights in the area, cutting off avenues of supply for the militants, according to the Russian statement.
Daesh has started fleeing the area in small groups, making their way toward Deir Ezzor, the largest city still under Daesh control, it said.
Russian drones are patrolling the area round-the-clock, directing airstrikes, the ministry added.
Separately, the Russian Defense Ministry said its representatives signed a deal with Faylaq Al-Rahman, a Syrian opposition group, to join a de-escalation zone agreement for Eastern Ghouta, an eastern Damascus.
The deal was signed on Friday in Geneva and will go into force later in the day, the ministry said.
Last month, another group in the area, Jaysh Al-Islam, joined the de-escalation agreement.
The de-escalation zone in Eastern Ghouta is one of four proposed in a plan approved in May by Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The plan includes a cessation of hostilities, a halt to Assad’s air force flights over designated areas, and provisions for humanitarian aid access.

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