Twin suicide bombings kill dozens at Kurdish new year celebrations

Screenshot from YouTube user Press Haber
Over 50 people have been killed in twin attacks by suicide bombers who detonated explosive-laden cars in the Kurdish crowds in northern Syria during a celebration of the Persian New Year, Newroz. More than 100 were injured, according to Kurdish sources.

The numbers of deaths seems to diverge. While the official government news agency SANA is reporting 37 deaths, Kurdish outlets in the region place the death toll closer to 56 people. Many of the injured were rushed to local hospitals, many in a critical condition.

The car blasts took place at al-Shuhadaa Square in a residential neighborhood of Hasaka city, SANA reports. According to ARA News, the two explosions happened two minutes apart and within 50 meters of each other as huge crowds gathered for Newroz celebrations, a day intended to promote peace and which marks the first day of spring in several cultures across the Middle East.

The director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman placed the blame on “kamikaze bombers.”

According to Rudaw news, the first explosion occurred at around 6:00pm local time in front of the Kurdish Democratic group office. The second blast allegedly targeted people next to the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDKS). The attacks caused significant damage to the buildings, cars, and shops in the area.

The Commander of the Kurdish security forces, Joan Ibrahim, promised a “retribution” for those responsible for the attack, as his forces surrounded and secured the area.

The Hasakeh province is mostly populated by Kurds, but Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) jihadists control parts of the region that borders Turkey and Iraq. Earlier on Friday, IS released a video clip allegedly showing the decapitation of three Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.