Car bombs kill 25 at Syrian Kurdish new year celebration

SYRIA, March 21: Two car bombs killed at least 25 people and wounded 80 celebrating the new year festival of Nowruz in the mainly Kurdish city of Hassaka in northeastern Syria, state media said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group, which tracks the four-year-old Syrian civil war, said 33 people, including children, were killed in the attack which it said was carried out by Islamic State, a hard-line jihadist group which has fought Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

Nowruz is an important festival in Kurdish culture in which people gather to play games, dance and eat. In Syria, Nowruz is also celebrated as an expression of identity for the stateless Kurdish minority.

Syrian state television said the bombs exploded in the al-Mufti district of Hassaka.

Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militant group which operates in northeastern Syria, also said Islamic State was responsible for the attack, which he said killed mostly women and children.

The YPG, which has emerged as the main partner on the ground for a U.S.-led coalition bombing Islamic State in Syria, has made significant gains in recent weeks in the north against the jihadists, cutting an important supply route from Iraq.

Over 200,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, which started with peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad by many groups, including Kurds, and spiralled into civil war after protests were met with violence by security forces.