BEIRUT — In the latest strike in a rapid-fire series of bloody attacks on children and other civilians in Syria in recent days, two car bombs exploded in the central province of Hama on Friday, killing at least 19 people, including at least eight children, Syrian state news media and antigovernment activists reported.
The bombings came even as a cease-fire deal was reported in the battered city of Homs. Insurgents, security officials, and progovernment media said a budding agreement would allow the last remaining insurgents in the Old City of Homs to flee. The deal was brokered in Turkey by Iranian officials and the insurgent Islamic Front and included meetings in Homs between government officials and rebel representatives, antigovernment fighters and activists said.
If it holds, the agreement would hand a victory for President Bashar Assad ahead of presidential elections next month, giving the government control of a bastion of rebellion in central Syria, where a dwindling group of fighters and civilians have held out through two years of blockade and bombardment.
But any hopes that a cease-fire could build new common ground were undermined by painful images of dead and injured children, who appeared to bear more of the brunt than usual this week in escalating attacks by both sides. Bombings of schools and marketplaces drew fierce condemnation from rights groups and left Syrians of all political stripes reeling, deepening political and sectarian divides.