DAMASCUS - A massive truck bomb claimed by rebels killed at least 35 people on Friday in a government-controlled village in the central Syrian province of Hama, state news agency SANA reported.
More than 50 people were wounded in the attack in Al-Horra, SANA said, blaming the attack on rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
“Terrorists exploded a truck loaded with a large amount of explosives,” SANA quoted a policeman as saying. “It is estimated that the explosives weighed three tonnes.”
The Islamic Front, a rebel coalition, claimed responsibility for the attack. It said on Twitter that a radio-controlled bomb had targeted a “gathering of Assad militia.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 38 people were killed, most of them civilians including women and children, as well as security personnel. It also said more than 40 were wounded.
Meanwhile, fighters of the ISIL on Friday captured key towns in eastern Syria adjoining territory the al Qaeda splinter group has seized in Iraq, a monitoring organisation said.
The militants took over the towns of Muhassan, Albulil and Albuomar, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
ISIL, which opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has also been fighting rival rebel groups in Deir al-Zor, an oil-producing eastern province of Syria devastated by the three-year-old civil war.
The newly captured towns are in an area running along the Euphrates River that links Syria and Iraq and are significant because they are close to Deir al-Zor’s military airport and the Syrian city of al-Mayadin, the Observatory’s Rami Abdurrahman said.
“If you control al-Mayadin, this means there are no more important cities except Abu Kamal out of (ISIL) control,” in the province, he said, referring to another town close to the Syria-Iraq border. “They are pushing forward.”
Muhassan, which is just over 100 km (60 miles) from the border with Iraq, is an important position for any attempt to capture the airport, he added.
The Observatory, which opposes Assad, tracks the Syrian civil war through a network of activists in the country.
Deir al-Zor has seen more than two years of fighting between opposition fighters and the Assad government forces and some civilians fled to Iraq to escape it. A second wave of internecine war among anti-Assad factions has erupted in parts of Syria they control.