CAIRO/WASHINGTON - More than 40 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli after a massive suicide truck bombing claimed by Islamic State.
A reporter for VOA's Kurdish service, Zana Omar, was among those injured in the blast near the Turkish border.
“The bombing happened around 50 meters away from my apartment,” he told VOA. “My wife, two children and I were wounded in the attack. My home is entirely destroyed.”
He also said that some of his relatives in the neighborhood have disappeared after the bombing and that they “are perhaps buried under in the rubble.”
Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Arab media the truck bomb demolished the facade of the headquarters of the Kurdish militia which controls the western part of Qamishli. The Syrian government controls another chunk of the city, including an outlying air base.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement published on its Aamaq news agency website, saying that it was targeting Kurdish security forces.
IS has been battling the U.S.-supported Kurdish militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, over control of large swathes of territory in the north of Syria, including the town of Manbij, north of Aleppo.
Kurdish officials said that IS defeats elsewhere in the country have forced the group to resort to other means to remain relevant in the conflict. “As Daesh [IS] is facing setbacks and defeats imposed by the Syrian Democratic Forces, it has nothing left but to carry out dirty terrorist operations against civilians in our areas,” said Jowan Ibrahim, the head of the local Kurdish security agency, known as Asayish, in a video statement posted on his group’s Facebook page soon after the Wednesday attack.
Nadim Shehadi of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy says that the attacks in Qamishli are not surprising, since the Kurdish forces are “laying siege to Manbij,” and that this and other IS attacks are "part of that battle."
IS has carried out numerous suicide attacks in the region and across both Syria and Iraq in recent months.
A suicide blast killed six members of the Kurdish internal security force, known as the Asayish, in April. In July, an IS suicide bomber killed at least 16 people in Hasaka.
VOA's Kurdish service contributed to this report.