Islamic State claims it was behind twin bomb blasts which killed 44 in Syria

A massive twin bomb blast claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 44 people and wounded dozens on Wednesday in the Syrian city of Qamishli. A truck loaded with explosives blew up on the western edge of the city, followed by an explosives-packed motorcycle a few minutes later in the same area. TV footage showed people running away from a mushroom of gray smoke rising over the town and others running amid wrecked or burnt cars. It was the largest and deadliest attack to hit the city, which is mainly controlled by Kurds, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011.

Most of the buildings at the scene of the explosion have been heavily damaged because of the strength of the blast

Qamishli resident, writer Suleiman Youssef

The Islamic State group, in a statement published by the IS-linked Aamaq news agency, said it carried out the attack, describing it as a truck bombing that struck a complex of Kurdish offices. Witnesses said the first explosion could be heard miles away and the blasts leveled several buildings to the ground and many people were trapped under the rubble. Children could be heard screaming as smoke rose from small fires that continued to burn amongst the rubble. Distraught civilians, some covered in blood, staggering through rubble past twisted metal and the burned-out remains of cars.

This blast is the biggest in Qamishli in terms of both the toll and the damage since the beginning of the war

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights