Three simultaneous bombings killed at least six civilians in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria yesterday, a Kurdish security source and a Britain-based monitor said.
There was no immediate claim for the bombings, but they occurred shortly after the Islamic State group said it was responsible for the killing the same day of a priest from the same city.
In Qamishli, an AFP correspondent saw charred cars and smoke rise from the site of the blasts.
Firefighters tried to put out the flames caused by the explosions, as rescue workers carried away the victims.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria, said two car bombs and an explosives-rigged motorcycle blew up in a market and near a school in the city.
More than 20 people were wounded in the simultaneous attacks, said the Britain-based monitor said.
The blasts come after IS claimed to have killed an Armenian Catholic priest from Qamishli. The Observatory said the priest and his father were killed by gunfire as they made their way to the eastern province of Deir Ezzor to inspect the restoration of a church there.
Kurdish fighters have led the US-backed battle against IS in Syria, expelling the extremists from the last scrap of their proto-state in March.
But the militants have continued to claim deadly attacks in northeastern and eastern Syria ever since.
In July, IS said it was responsible for a massive truck bomb that killed at least 44 people in Qamishli. A Turkish cross-border attack against Kurdish fighters on October 9 heightened fears that IS fighters could break out in mass from Kurdish jails.
But a fragile Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal has more or less halted that offensive, and seen Kurdish forces withdraw from areas along the Turkish border, except Qamishli.
Meanwhile, the British founder of an organisation that trained the “White Helmets” emergency response group has been found dead in Istanbul, five years after the group was set up to perform rescue work in rebel areas during the Syrian civil war.
The body of James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue group, was found early yesterday near his home in central Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, a neighbour said.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office said an investigation had been launched.
A security source told Reuters it was believed that Le Mesurier had fallen from the balcony of his home office and his death was being treated as suspected suicide.
The White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, have been credited with saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas hit by bombing by government and Russian forces in Syria’s more than eight-year-old civil war.
White Helmets members say they are neutral.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, including Moscow, describe them as tools of Western propaganda and insurgents.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Twitter on Friday that the White Helmets help “the most dangerous terrorist groups,” and that Le Mesurier was a former British agent with reported “connections to terrorist groups.”
Mayday Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation, began its operations in 2014 and established an office in Istanbul in 2015 to support its Syria project.
Its projects have been funded by the United Nations and various governments, its website said. A former British army officer, Le Mesurier was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 2016 for services to Syria Civil Defence and the protection of civilians in Syria.
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