BEIRUT — At least 42 people were killed Saturday in the western Syrian city of Homs after al-Qaeda-linked militants attacked two heavily guarded security facilities.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring network, said suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire outside the headquarters of general and military intelligence, two of the most fortified complexes in the area.
An al-Qaeda-linked alliance of rebel groups known as Tahrir al-Sham said it was responsible for the attacks, which took place as Syrian government and opposition delegates met in Geneva for the latest round of a stuttering peace process.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombings had killed at least 42 people, all of them security personnel, in the districts of Ghouta and Mahatta.
Among the dead was Gen. Hassan Daeboul, one of the province’s most senior security officials and the former head of one of Damascus’s most notorious detention facilities.
In tributes on Syrian state television, the dead were described as “martyrs.”
Much of Homs has been badly damaged in the vicious fighting that accompanied the escalation of Syria’s mostly peaceful uprising into all-out war. By the end of a two-year siege on rebel forces hunkered down in the Old City, an estimated 200,000 people had fled, and more than 70 percent of the buildings in the area were destroyed.
On Saturday, activists in the final rebel-held neighborhood, al-Waer, reported intense aerial bombardment, apparently by government war planes. Besieged by Syrian soldiers and militiamen, al-Waer has gone four months without a United Nations aid delivery.
The violence took place as Syrian government and opposition delegates met in Geneva for the latest round of talks aimed at bringing Syria’s six-year-old crisis to an end.
Hopes of a breakthrough are low, and the very existence of a peace process has caused rebel forces in northwestern Syria to descend into infighting.
Factions within the al-Qaeda-linked Tahrir al-Sham alliance have attacked groups that backed a separate set of negotiations in the Kazakh capital of Astana earlier this year.