BEIRUT • A large truck bomb blast claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) killed nearly 50 people and wounded scores more in the north-eastern Syrian city of Qamishli near the Turkish border, a monitoring group and state television said yesterday.
The attack, near a Kurdish security forces headquarters, was the deadliest of its kind in the city in years, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
At least 48 people were killed in the blast early yesterday. The death toll is expected to rise because of the number of people seriously injured, the group said. State media put the death toll at 44.
An Agence France-Presse journalist saw devastating scenes in the bomb's aftermath, with distraught civilians, some covered in blood, staggering through rubble past twisted metal and the burnt-out remains of cars.
One man running along a street was completely covered in blood, his shirt drenched red. He was gripping the arm of a small boy whose face was grey and red with blood and dust. They ran past a hysterical woman who was crying and screaming, her clothes torn. A girl and a boy stood next to her, apparently in shock.
Children could be heard screaming as smoke rose from small fires that continued to burn in the rubble.
Civilians and local security forces with guns slung across their backs carried the dead and wounded from the remains of damaged or destroyed buildings.
ISIS claimed the attack in a statement circulated on social media, calling it "a response to the crimes committed by the crusader coalition aircraft" in the town of Manbij, an ISIS bastion in Syria's Aleppo province. It said that it had targeted Kurdish security forces.
Kurdish forces control much of Hasaka province after capturing vast areas from the extremist group last year. The Kurdish YPG militia, which has proved the most effective partner for the US-led coalition battling ISIS, is also involved in fighting the extremists in Aleppo.
ISIS has carried out a number of bombings in Qamishli, which is in Hasaka province, and in Hasaka city, the provincial capital.
A suicide blast killed six members of the Kurdish internal security force in April. In July, an ISIS suicide bomb killed at least 16 people in Hasaka.
State TV showed footage purportedly from the scene of yesterday's blast, showing large- scale damage to buildings, vast amounts of rubble strewn across the road and plumes of smoke rising.
Yesterday's explosion was so powerful that it shattered the windows of shops in the Turkish town of Nusaybin directly across the border. Two people were slightly hurt in Nusaybin, a witness said.
The assault against ISIS in the city of Manbij has put it under pressure, cutting off all routes out of the city. Fighters from the US-backed alliance have made incremental advances in recent weeks as they try to flush out the remaining ISIS fighters in Manbij.
Territory that ISIS controls in the area was a major supply route to the outside world via the Turkish-Syrian border, across which it moved weapons and fighters.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE