IS Restaurant Bombings Kill 16 in Northern Syrian City

BEIRUT (AP) -

The Islamic State terror group on Thursday claimed 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 more than 30.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said the explosions happened in a Christian neighborhood in the city of Qamishli. A poster hung up at a local church said 13 of the victims were Christian, and that their funerals would take place later Thursday.

The bombs went off in the city center, near a security point run by government troops, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists and other sources inside Syria. It said the death toll rose to 18 after two more people died of their wounds. SANA’s toll remained at 16.

A claim of responsibility by Islamic State later circulated on social media. The terror group has suffered some of its worst setbacks in battles with Kurdish fighters in Syria, and has carried out dozens of suicide attacks against the Kurds, including several in Qamishli.

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

Elsewhere in Syria, two days of airstrikes on IS-controlled areas around the ancient Roman city of Palmyra killed at least 15 people, including at least one woman, the Observatory said. Palmyra and its famed ruins, once a major tourist draw, fell to IS in May.

Fighting between pro-government and IS fighters continued around Homs province, where Palmyra is located, with bombs striking a salt factory, a hospital wing, and other targets, the Observatory said.

SANA said government airstrikes hit terrorist targets across the country and ground troops moved into several villages in the eastern countryside of Hama province.