More than 20 people were killed Friday when two car bombs exploded at Kurdish festivals in northeastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group. The bombings in the predominantly Kurdish city of Hassakeh also wounded 80 people, Reuters reported.
The observatory attributed the attacks to the Islamic State group, which controls a lot of territory in both Syria and Iraq. The extremist group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS has previously targeted Kurds, as well as other ethnic and religious minorities in the region. Hassakeh is located in an area where the militant group has significant support, according to a BBC News infographic.
A representative of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) also attributed the attacks to the Islamic State group and said the bombings killed mostly women and children. Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militant group has carried out more than 100 aistrikes against it in Hassakeh, as indicated by BBC News.
The car bombs detonated during celebrations of Nowruz, the Iranian/Persian and Kurdish new year, when Kurds gather for games, food and dancing. Among Kurds, the ancient spring festival commemorates the death of a tyrant about 2,500 years ago. In Syria, it also gives members of the stateless ethnic minority a chance to celebrate their identity.
The attacks in Hassakeh came the same day that suicide bombings at two mosques in Sanaa, Yemen, killed at least 137 people. Meanwhile, another bombing at a government compound in the northern Yemeni city of Saada killed at least two people.