Fear Along Syria’s Coast After Unprecedented ISIS Attacks

Cities Thought Immune to Attacks Reeling After Massive Bombings

by Jason Ditz, May 24, 2016

The death toll of yesterday’s ISIS attacks along the coast in Syria’s Latakia Province continues to rise, with over 160 now believed killed between Jableh and Tartus. Residents are still reeling in the aftermath of attacks that were once thought all-but-impossible in this area.

Though ISIS had proven able to attack pretty much anywhere else in Syria, the coast was seen as a rare sanctuary, particularly for the Alawite minority. The presence of major Russian bases in Jableh and Tartus added to the sense that those cities were far more secure than the rest of the war-torn country, and the lack of attacks had, until yesterday, borne that out.

Locals now are trying to make sense of nine bombings over a period of about an hour, and realizing how much more vulnerable they are than they previously thought. Strategically important but relatively isolated from the civil war itself, it seems no place in Syria is safe anymore.

Hospitals are still overwhelmed by the chaos and Jableh in particular saw an unprecedented number of funerals throughout the day. The biggest concern, however, is what comes next, and whether this portends ISIS making the coastal cities a common target.

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