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Double car bomb in Syria’s Raqqa kills at least 8, mostly civilians

A double bomb attack Tuesday, April 9 in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, a former Islamic State bastion, killed at least eight people, mostly civilians, local sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the car bomb and explosive ordnance attack on a crowded street near a military outpost of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Five people were killed and four others injured, said the SDF-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The first explosion was caused by a mine that detonated on al-Bassel street in the center of Raqqa, followed by two booby-trapped vehicles exploding at the same site, reported ANHA, which is close to the SDF component People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Citing a security source in northern Syria, Reuters reported that eight people – four civilians and four SDF members – were killed, and three members of the Kurdish police force Asayish were wounded.

A Raqqa resident said he saw black smoke rising above the site of the attack as ambulance sirens rang out.

He said he saw “blotches of blood on the ground.”

“There is panic and fear in the area after the bombings,” he added.

Raqqa city was captured by the SDF in 2017 after a massive operation against the jihadist group.

The SDF declared it had defeated ISIS’s proclaimed “caliphate” last month, after a months-long offensive in Syria’s east.

ISIS fighters, however, retain a presence in Syria’s vast Badia desert and various other hideouts, and continue to claim deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.

Earlier on Tuesday, a car bomb targeted an international Coalition patrol in the northeastern town of Shadadi, the PYD said.

But it failed to hit its target, leading only to the death of the suicide bomber.

Sleeper cells

Last month, ISIS fighters killed seven Manbij Military Council guards in an attack on a checkpoint in the northern city of Manbij, days after the announcement of the caliphate’s defeat.

The SDF has warned that a new phase has begun in anti-ISIS operations, and appealed for sustained coalition assistance to help hunt down sleeper cells.

ISIS seized a large swathe of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” in the lands it controlled.

After various offensives saw the jihadist group lose its main cities in 2017, the SDF on March 23 declared they had vanquished its last patch of territory in the eastern village of Baghuz near the Iraqi border.

At the height of their rule, the extremists ruled millions of people in a pseudo-state the size of Great Britain.

They collected taxes, minted their own coins, and meted out brutal punishment on anyone who disobeyed or opposed them.

Tuesday’s deaths are the latest in Syria’s devastating eight-year war, which has killed more than 370,00 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.

Challenges after the elimination of ISIS

With reporting from AFP

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