DUBAI - A militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in eastern Syria last week that killed nine people and said attacks would continue, in a statement posted on the Internet on Monday.

The al-Nusra Front said it was behind the attack on Saturday which targeted military installations in Deir al-Zor. The authenticity of the statement could not immediately be verified.

"There was a limit to the ferocity of the dogs of the regime in Deir al-Zor at which they had to be punished, so the soldiers of the al-Nusra front undertook this mission," read the statement on an Islamist web forum.

"The blessed operations will continue until the land of Syria is purified from the filth of the Nusayris (Alawites) and the Sunnis are relieved from their oppression."

The uprising against four decades of Assad family rule has been led by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, many of whom are resentful of a political and military elite dominated by the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam to which Assad belongs.

The Syrian government points to bombings as proof it is confronting foreign-backed militants, not a home-grown uprising.

The al-Nusra Front has previously claimed responsibility for bombings in Damascus and Aleppo.

No civilians were killed in the bombing in Deir al-Zor, al-Nusra said in the statement, adding it had previously cancelled operations because "innocent people" were at its target site.

The group, whose full name means "the support front for the people of Syria", has emerged during the revolt, which began as a peaceful protest movement but has become increasingly militarized as rebels fight back against a government crackdown.

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