45 dead in attacks on Syria Kurds celebrating new year

BEIRUT, LEBANON- Forty-five people, including five children, were killed in attacks on Syrian Kurds as they celebrated their new year, a monitor said Saturday, accusing the Islamic State group of responsibility.
The attacks occurred Friday in what was one of IS's bloodiest days in Syria, as the Sunni Muslim extremist group killed more than 120 people across the war-ravaged country.

"There are now 45 dead from last night's attacks in Hasakeh, as most of those who were in critical condition passed away," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, updating its toll after initially reporting 33 dead.
Two explosions struck as members of Syria's Kurdish minority took part in festivities on the eve of Nowruz, the Kurdish new year, in the northeastern city of Hasakeh.
"They were lighting the candles at night, and there were a lot children around," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
There was no claim of responsibility, but Abdel Rahman told AFP that IS was behind the attacks.
He said the explosions were a few hundred metres (yards) apart from each other, with at least one caused by a suicide bomber in a vehicle.
The fear of additional attacks dimmed the Nowruz spirit in Hasakeh on Saturday.
"Today is supposed to be a day about freedom, but people were afraid of celebrating," Abdel Rahman said.
Hasakeh city is under the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and regime forces, but IS militants have attacked towns nearby.
The jihadist offensive has sparked fierce clashes with Kurdish militia in the strategic province along Syria's borders with Iraq and Turkey.
- Warning from Damascus -
UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned Friday's "heinous" attacks, while the commander of the Kurdish security forces, Joan Ibrahim, said "the crime that occurred today in Hasakeh will not pass without retribution".
The SANA state news agency said the Syrian foreign ministry sent a message Saturday to Ban and the UN Security Council after the attacks.
It called on the international community to "end its policy of double standards when it comes to terrorism and terrorist groups".
The message warned that "the terrorists' fire will not stop at the borders of Syria, but will spread throughout the world".
It called on the Security Council to "take action against terrorist groups and the states that support or sponsor them".
Jihadists also attacked government positions in the central provinces of Homs and Hama Friday, killing at least 82 members of forces loyal to the Syrian regime.
Sixty-two of those deaths were in Hama alone in IS attacks along a key road leading north to Aleppo.
In the southern province of Daraa, regime forces struck rebel-held neighbourhoods of the town of Busra al-Sham with at least 12 barrel bombs, the Observatory reported.
The crudely constructed weapons of oil drums or other containers packed with explosives are usually dropped from helicopters.
Human rights groups have criticised the use of barrel bombs for being indiscriminate and killing large numbers of civilians.
Abdel Rahman also said IS had "executed" 13 people over the past two days in Damascus, Deir Ezzor and Homs provinces, accusing them of being regime spies or blasphemers.

Sunday, March 22nd 2015

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