Middle EastWar

Dozens injured as multiple explosions hit Qamishli in northeast Syria

By Joanne Stocker, Jared Szuba, and Fahad Fattah

QAMISHLI, Syria – As many as three bombs exploded in the northeast Syrian border town of Qamishli on Monday, November 11, killing at least one person and rocking the border town that is largely under control of the U.S.-led Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which involved at least two vehicles at a restaurant and in front of busy hotels.

Six people were killed and 46 others wounded, according to the health department of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the self-declared body that administers SDF-controlled territory.

Emergency workers recovered what appeared to be a suicide vest and the remains of an automatic rifle.

Explosions in Qamishli
The scene of one of a series of explosions in Qamishli, in northeast Syria, November 11, 2019. Image: © Jared Szuba/The Defense Post
Explosions in Qamishli
The remains of a car after a series of explosions in Qamishli, in northeast Syria, November 11, 2019. Image: © Joanne Stocker/The Defense Post

Medics on the scene told The Defense Post that two people were killed but the report could not immediately be verified. As many as 30 other people were wounded.

The Kurdish Red Crescent, People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Asayish (police) force were on the scene around 4 p.m. as civilians were pushed back from the street in front of the bombed-out cafeteria.

Witnesses said one bomb went off around 3:08 p.m. and the second exploded two minutes later.

The Syriac Military Council (MFS) said a third bomb exploded near a church a short time later.

It was unclear whether the explosions were caused by car bombs, a motorbike bomb, or a person inside the cafeteria wearing a suicide vest.

Windows on all four floors of the cafeteria, the adjacent Al Soufaraa Hotel, and the Asia Hotel across the street were blown out by the blast and debris was scattered on surrounding streets. Both hotels are frequented by foreigners.

“There’s no police station here. There’s no military checkpoint here,” said one man at the scene. A nearby security official affirmed that there are no SDF or Asayish positions on the block. The explosions occurred one block from a known Syrian military checkpoint.

Explosions in Qamishli
The aftermath of a series of explosions in Qamishli, in northeast Syria, November 11, 2019. Image: © Joanne Stocker/The Defense Post

Qamishli is the de facto capital of the self-declared autonomous region of North and East Syria, much of which is under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, although parts of the city – including streets near the bomb site – are under control of the Syrian government.

Qamishli has been targeted several times in recent years, including by ISIS, but has seen less violence than other parts of Syria. In June, Islamic State set off a vehicle bomb targeting the Asayish in the Qidurbek neighborhood that injured several people, including an 8-year-old. A month later, a car bomb blew up outside a church in a Christian area of the city and injured nearly a dozen people. ISIS claimed responsibility for that bomb as well.

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