SYRIA

Nearly 50 killed in IS-linked truck bomb blast in northeast Syria city

The attack, which hit near a Kurdish security forces headquarters, was the deadliest of its kind in the city for years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 9:57pm

A massive bomb blast claimed by Islamic State (IS) killed at least 44 people yesterday and wounded dozens in the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Qamishli. It was the largest and deadliest attack to hit the city since the beginning of Syria’s conflict in March 2011.

Syrian state media gave a toll

of 44 dead and 140 injured in the bombing, which hit a western ­district of the city where several ­local Kurdish ministries are located. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor gave a toll of 48 dead, adding that children and women were among those killed.

Kurdish officials said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden truck.

The blast was initially described as a double bombing, but local officials and the Observatory said the bomb had detonated a nearby fuel container, leading to reports of a second explosion. In the bomb’s aftermath, distraught civilians, some covered in blood, staggered through rubble past twisted metal and the burned-out remains of cars.

IS claimed the attack in a statement circulated on social media, calling it “a response to the crimes committed by the crusader coalition aircraft” in the town of Manbij, a bastion of the jihadist group in Syria’s Aleppo province.

Kurdish fighters have been a key force battling the jihadists in north and northeastern Syria and are the main component in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance seeking to oust IS from Manbij. They are backed by air strikes launched by the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

Qamishli is under the shared control of the Syrian regime and Kurdish authorities, who have ­declared zones of “autonomous ­administration” across parts of north and northeast Syria. It has regularly been targeted in bomb attacks, many of which have been claimed by IS. But a source in the Kurdish Asayesh security forces said “this is the largest explosion the city has ever seen”.

The area houses ­several Kurdish administration buildings including the defence ministry and was considered a secure zone, with multiple checkpoints and security measures in place.

“This blast is the biggest in Qamishli in terms of both the

toll and the damage since the beginning of the war,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director.

More than 280,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began with anti-government protests that were met with a regime crackdown.