Twin attacks leave at least 32 dead
In synchronised attacks, insurgents stormed into heavily guarded security offices in Syria's central Homs city, clashed with troops and then blew themselves up, killing a senior officer and at least 31 others, state media and officials reported.
The swift, high-profile attacks against the Military Intelligence and State Security offices, among Syria's most powerful, were claimed by an al-Qaida-linked insurgent coalition known as the Levant Liberation Committee.
A Syrian lawmaker on a state-affiliated TV station called it a "heavy blow" to Syria's security apparatuses.
The attacks came as Syrian government and opposition delegates meet in Geneva in United Nations-mediated talks aimed at building momentum towards peace despite low expectations of a breakthrough.
The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura called the attacks "tragic".
"Every time we had talks or a negotiation, there was always someone who was trying to spoil it. We were expecting that," he said.
Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Ja'afari, who leads Damascus' delegation to Geneva, said the attacks were a message from the "sponsors of terrorism" to the peace talks.
Al-Ja'afari said the attacks will not go unanswered.
No footage or pictures emerged from the typically tightly secured scene of the attacks in the city centre. Activists said the city was on high alert after the attacks, with government troops blocking roads and forcing shops to close.