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Isis Bombs Kill Dozens in Kurdish City of Qamishli as Extremist Group Faces Becoming Surrounded
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Isis has carried out two bombings in the predominantly Kurdish city of Qamishli in the Syrian Kurdish enclave in north east Syria, killing 44 people and injuring over 100. The explosions tore apart a security headquarters along with government ministries in what may have been Isis retaliation for a Kurdish-backed offensive that threatens to seal off the self-declared caliphate from the outside world.

A truck packed with explosives blew up on the western side of Qamishli, which is the de facto capital of the Kurdish controlled zone, and this was followed with the explosion of a bomb on a motorcycle. Rescue teams are working to find people under the rubble. “It was a massive explosion,” local journalist Idris Ali told the Kurdish news agency Rudaw. “The bang was heard across Qamishli. Every hospital is receiving the wounded.”

The Syrian Kurdish zone stretches from the Tigris to the Euphrates River across northern Syria just south of the Turkish border. Its People’s Protection Units (YPG) receive close air support from US planes, greatly increasing their firepower and enabling them to advance south and west since 2012, when the Syrian Army largely abandoned the area. The Army has some troops in Qamishli controlling the airport and a limited sector in the city.

The YPG is one of the most effective military forces fighting in the war that is being waged in Iraq and Syria, establishing effective check points at which documents and loads are carefully scrutinised. But, if suicide bombers are intercepted, they normally blow themselves up at the checkpoints, inflicting heavy loss of life among security forces and those waiting to pass through. However, although the enclave known to Kurds as Rojava, stretches a long way east to west, Isis forces are not far to the south and have in the past penetrated into Kurdish cities and towns to carry out bombings and killings. In June 2015 an Isis detachment of about 80 entered the Kurdish city of Kobani west of Qamishli and killed at least 220 civilians and 35 YPG fighters before being killed themselves.

Qamishli resident and writer Suleiman Youssef was quoted as saying that he heard the first explosion from a few miles away. He said the blasts levelled several buildings and many people were trapped under the rubble. “Most of the buildings at the scene of the explosion have been heavily damaged because of the strength of the blast,” he said.


One motive for the bombing may be that an offensive by the YPG-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is fighting its way into the town of Manbij west of the Euphrates, which has been held by Isis for two years. If it falls, this will cut off Isis from the one place where they can gain access to Turkey and the outside world. It would also cut off the movement from the heavily populated and highly fertile land of northern Aleppo, that has a population of about 600,000. The SDF says that it gave Isis fighters time to leave the town, but they have not taken advantage of the offer.

The Syrian Kurds, numbering about two million or 10 per cent of the population, were a marginalised and persecuted minority up to 2011, when they threw off Syrian government control, only to find themselves under attack from the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the Nusra Front, and later Isis. The reason the Kurds are so militarily effective is that PYD, the party running the enclave, is the Syrian of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has fighting a guerrilla war against the Turkish army since 1984.

Isis is under pressure in both Iraq and Syria and has responded with a string of massacres through carefully organised bombings in Baghdad, where 292 people were killed at the end of Ramadan, and another in the Syrian government heartlands at Tartous and Jableh. Attacks on civilians has always been a central part of Isis tactics to show strength and defiance as well as to sow fear. Another aim is to tie down security forces defending potential civilian targets.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Kurds 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    It’s part of Israeli dream to establish a pro-Israel independent Kurdistan.

    On June 24, 2014, Jewish Wall Street Journal, reported the Israeli plan to establish an independent Kurd state and how it could help Israel in fulfilling its cherished dream of Eretz Yizarel.

    During the same month, then president of the Zionist entity, Shimon Peres, told US president Barack Obama that “the Iraqi Kurds have, de facto, created their own state, which is democratic. One of the signs of a democracy is equality to women.” In other words, the war criminal Peres unwittingly admitted that his own Zionist entity is not a democracy since women in Israel are treated as low-caste creatures like in Hindu India. In Israel, Jewish women are discriminated in at least eight places.

    Both Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman told John Kerry, “Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”

    In January 2016, Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s annexation minister also voiced her support for an independent Kurdistan state for all the Kurd people who don’t have state of their own like the Jews in the past.
    So why these Zionist thugs love an independent Kurdistan so much? The current autonomous region of Kurd majority Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is not only has oil-rich Kirkuk area, but the KRG is very friendly toward Israel. It’s already exporting oil to the Zionist entity at preferential rates. A pro-Israel State of Kurdistan would provide the warmongering Zionist Jews a launching pad to further destabilize the neighboring countries like Syria, Iran, and Turkey, where sizeable Kurd communities reside.

    After WWI, the British, French and Russian colonial powers broke-up Kurd region under Ottoman Empire, and divided the 30 million Kurds among Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Azerbaijan. Near 100,000 Jewish Kurds migrated to Israel after 1948.

    • Replies: @Quartermaster
  2. 5371 says:

    The Kurds did not “throw off Syrian government control” in 2011. By mutual consent they continued to fight for the common interest of Syrian citizens when events had rendered the government temporarily incapable of doing so in their areas. I”m afraid that Cockburn is here retailing mendacious American propaganda.

  3. @Rehmat

    The Kurds have had national aspirations for many years. This is no recent thing as you seem to think.

    You also need to rethink how you write your screeds. There is no such thing as a “Jewish Kurd.”

  4. anon • Disclaimer says:

    The middle east remains violent chaotic and dysfunctional.

    What else is new?

  5. Fredrik says:

    Qamishli is not only Kurdish. There’s a sizable Christian minority in the city.

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