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Apr 18, 2014 A powerful car bomb exploded Friday outside a mosque in a pro-government district of central Syria, killing 14 people in the latest violence to hit the war-shattered city, state-run Syrian television reported. The bombing occurred as worshi

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Apr 18, 2014 A powerful car bomb exploded Friday outside a mosque in a pro-government district of central Syria, killing 14 people in the latest violence to hit the war-shattered city, state-run Syrian television reported. The bombing occurred as worshippers left the Bilal al-Habshi mosque on the edge of Akrama after attending Friday prayers, the report said, and also wounded at least 50 people. The area, populated mainly by Alawites, members of President Bashar Assad's minority sect, repeatedly has been targeted by car bombs in recent months. Opposition activists also reported the blast. The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said the explosion killed at least nine people, adding that the number likely would rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition. The attack coincides with a crushing operation by army troops aimed at retaking the last foreign backed terrorists’ bastions in the historic quarters of the old city of Homs. The last few days has seen some of the fiercest fighting there in months, and the army made significant progress on Friday. A military official quoted by the state-run news agency said troops seized several buildings in the Wadi al-Sayeh area, including the landmark St. George church. The old neighborhoods of Homs is the last major stronghold for the terrorist groups in central Syria, and the fight to take it underscores how emboldened Syrian troops have become in militants-held areas. Activists say more than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it began in March 2011. The larger fight to topple Assad has been undermined by fierce militants infighting, particularly since the beginning of the year. In an audio message posted on militant websites late Thursday, the spokesman of an al-Qaida breakaway group, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, slammed the terror network's chief, blaming him for the widening rift between rival terrorist groups.