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Death toll up to 45 in Syria twin attacks

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The death toll in twin attacks that targeted Kurds celebrating their New Year in north-eastern Syria late Friday has climbed to 45, a monitoring group said.

The blasts occurred in the province of al-Hassakeh, which borders Turkey and Iraq. It initially left 33 dead and dozens wounded, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Many of the wounded are still listed in critical condition. We expect the number of the dead to increase,” Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory, told dpa on Saturday.

The first attack, carried out by a suicide bomber driving a car, targeted the al-Mufti neighbourhood in al-Hassasskeh, where local Kurds were celebrating their New Year, known as Nauroz, the Observatory said.

A second blast, believed to be the result of an explosive device, targeted a Kurdish gathering in the same district.

The Observatory blamed the attacks on the Islamic State militia, which rules territory in war-torn Syria.

There was no claim of responsibility from the radical group.

The attacks prompted Kurds in the area to cancel their Nauroz festivities in anticipation of further assaults, activists said.

Nauroz is celebrated mainly by Iranians and Kurds, marking the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar.

Kurdish fighters and Islamic State radicals have battled in Syria in recent months.

Last week, Kurdish militiamen regained ground from the group in northern Syria by cutting an important supply route for Islamic State from Iraq.

The al-Qaeda splinter group also controls considerable territory in Iraq. SAPA

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