Twin car bomb explosions in the central Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday killed at least 18 people, mostly children, and wounded 40 others, AFP reported, citing the state news agency SANA.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same toll in the double bombing in the Akrameh neighborhood of Homs.
The group said the death toll could rise as body parts were still being collected from the scene and several of the wounded were in serious condition.
“Two terrorist explosions near the Akrameh al-Makhzumi school and the Zaim hospital caused deaths and injuries,” Syrian state television reported.
The neighborhood is home to a majority of Alawites, members of the same offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar Al-Assad belongs.
The district has been targeted more than once before, including on June 19, when at least six people were killed in a car bomb attack.
In April, two car bombs in Homs killed at least 25 people, including women and children, this time in the neighborhood of Karam al-Luz, which is also mostly made up of Alawites.
Homs was once dubbed “the capital of the revolution” against Assad. Most of the city, except the battered district of Waar, has returned to regime control after two years of bombardment and siege.
Some 1,400 civilians were able to leave the area earlier this year under UN supervision.
Over the past few months, focus has shifted away from the civil war in Syria and onto the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS), which has taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq.
A coalition led by the United States, having already launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, has also begun airstrikes against the group’s targets in Syria.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly this week, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem appealed to the world to fight back against ISIS.
Muallem said that his country supported all efforts to fight terror, adding that any attacks on the Islamists needed to ensure that Syrian citizens remained safe.