Wednesday, July 27th 2016, saw ISIS attack the Syrian border town of Qamishli. 48 were killed and more than 170 wounded, in the bloodiest attack seen in Qamishli since ISIS’s campaign began.
The truck bomb detonated near police and government buildings, causing both civilian and police casualties.
The bomb damage was amplified due to a second blast when a fuel tanker that caught fire in the initial blast exploded – this second explosion was initially mistaken as a second bomber.
Due to the extensive damage caused by the blast, many casualties may still remain beneath rubble, as work still continues to search for victims. The bombing was even reported to have caused minor injuries and shattered windows in Turkey.
ISIS have claimed the attack, stating they were targeting Kurdish military offices. The attack was the latest ISIS attack to utilise a truck bomb, which have been prevalent in their most lethal attacks, such as that seen in Iraq at the beginning of this month – in which almost 500 were killed and injured.
Over the last five years, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor has found Syria to be consistently one of the worst affected states from explosive violence around the world. A total of 36,224 deaths and injuries from explosive violence were recorded there between 2011-2015 – of these 86% (31,290) were civilians. Indeed, the only country worse affected from explosive violence in the last five years was Iraq.
Though, it is state actors that have been responsible for most civilian deaths and injuries in Syria caused by explosive violence, non-state violence too has been a constant threat to the lives of Syrian civilians. In 2015, AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor found that non-state actors were responsible for at least 3,218 civilian deaths and injuries; 37% of all civilian deaths and injuries recorded in Syria last year. Of these, ISIS was accountable for 794.
The 40 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents recorded last year caused 1,285 civilian deaths and injuries – an average of 32 deaths and injuries per attack.
However, the explosive violence perpetrated in Syria by ISIS alone this year has already increased. 1,199 civilian deaths and injuries were caused by explosive violence perpetrated by ISIS in the first half of 2016. 1,167 were caused by 14 IED attacks. The attacks this year also demonstrate an increased lethality, with an average of 83 civilian deaths and injuries per incident.
It is evident that IEDs, especially suicide bombings, are extremely lethal and are seeing wider and wider use. AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015 found that of all IED attacks, the ones that posed the most danger were suicide attacks.
AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all groups to reject the deliberate targeting of civilians. States must urgently address the threat of suicide bombings and other forms of IED attacks. Reports by AOAV show the increasing use and harm of suicide bombings around the world. It is a growing reality that highlights the need for urgent preventative measures that States should establish – such as stockpile controls – to limit groups’ ability to produce these and other IEDs.
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