What was once a land steeped in history and diverse culture is now a war-torn nation reduced to rubble.
Two car bombs have killed at least 20 people and wounded 70 celebrating the new year festival of Nowruz in the mainly Kurdish city of Hasakah in northeastern Syria, state media has reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that Friday’s attacks were carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group.
Syrian state television said the bombs exploded in the al-Mufti district of Hasakah.
Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG armed group which operates in northeastern Syria, also said ISIL was responsible for the attack, which he said killed mostly women and children.
“Hasakah hospitals are flooded with casualties,” Ekrem Hasso, an official in northeastern Syria’s Kurdish region told the AP news agency from Amouda. He added that Kurdish forces are on high alert in much of northern Syria for fear of more attacks.
Tweets from ISIL-linked “Raqqa Media Centre” accounts claimed the attacks, but Al Jazeera is unable to independently verify these statements.
Kurdish fighters have been battling the ISIL group for months, leaving hundreds dead. The main Kurdish forces known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, has been advancing recently in Hasakah province.
It is a predominantly Kurdish area, but ISIL holds parts of the region, which borders Turkey and Iraq.