At least 16 killed in restaurant bombings in northern Syrian city

BEIRUT - The Islamic State group on Thursday claimed responsibility for the bombing of two restaurants in a predominantly Kurdish city in northeastern Syria the previous night, an attack that killed at least 16 people and wounded 35.

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Syria's state news agency SANA said the "terrorist explosions" hit the Shiyahi area, a Christian neighbourhood, late Wednesday in the city of Qamishli. A poster hung up at a local church said 13 of the victims were Christians, and that their funerals would take place later Thursday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombs went off in the city centre, near a security point run by government troops.

A claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group circulated on social media. The group has been fighting Kurdish fighters in Syria since last year and the extremists have carried out dozens of suicide attacks against the Kurds, including several in Qamishli.

The Kurdish fighters, aided by U.S.-led airstrikes, have also captured significant territory from IS in northern Syria.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi strongly condemned the explosions, which targeted the Miami and Gabriel restaurants in Qamishli, saying that they reveal the "brutality of criminal gangs."

"These terrorist explosions will make us more determined and firm for confrontation to liberate every part of Syrian land," he said in remarks carried by SANA.

The news agency said the blasts also severely damaged the restaurants' buildings. Syrian President Bashar Assad's government uses the term "terrorist" to refer to any armed group or organization fighting against his rule, whether it's a militant or a rebel group.


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