At least 44 killed in ISIL attack on PYD-held town
REUTERS photoA massive bomb blast claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed at least 44 people and wounded dozens on July 27 in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli, which is held by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) near the border with Turkey.
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, AFP reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor gave a toll of 48 dead, adding that children and women were among those killed.
Local 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.
An AFP journalist saw devastating scenes in the bomb’s aftermath, with distraught civilians, some covered in blood, staggering through rubble past twisted metal and the burned-out remains of cars.
ISIL 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.
The PYD forces control much of Hasaka province, after capturing vast areas from ISIL last year. The military wing of the PYD, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which has proved the most effective partner for a U.S.-led coalition battling ISIL, is also involved in fighting the extremists farther west, in Aleppo province.
The PYD and YPG have caused a row between the U.S. and Turkey over the difference of the designation of the organizations. While the U.S. the two are “reliable” partners in its fight against ISIL, Turkey says the PYD and YPG are terrorist organizations as they are offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The YPG is now involved in a U.S.-backed offensive that has advanced against the jihadists further west near the Turkish border, in Manbij.
State TV rolled footage from the scene of one blast, showing large-scale damage to buildings, vast amounts of rubble strewn across the road and plumes of smoke rising.
One explosion was so powerful it shattered the windows of shops in the Turkish town of Nusaybin, directly across the border, Reuters reported adding that two people were slightly hurt in Nusaybin, a according to a witness.
Meanwhile, Syrian government air strikes and artillery fire killed at least 16 civilians on July 27 in rebel-held neighborhoods in the east of Aleppo city, the Observatory said.
The observatory said that the toll could rise because people were still trapped under the rubble.
On July 26, Syrian government forces called on opposition fighters in Aleppo to drop their weapons and surrender to authorities as they captured new ground on the northwestern edge of the city, tightening the siege on rebel-held parts of the metropolis where some 300,000 people live, activists said, according to the Associated Press.
The push in which troops captured large parts of the city’s Layramoun area came as state TV reported that the General Army Command informed residents of rebel-held parts of Aleppo via telephone text messages that the army has created several safe passages and makeshift centers for whoever wants to leave those areas.