BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Friday for triple suicide bombings in northern Syria that killed at least 26 people and wounded 90, underscoring its ability to launch attacks in areas that it has lost to rival groups.
The extremist group said in a statement posted online that the attacks in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh targeted offices of the main Kurdish militia known as the YPG. The attacks in the town of Tal Tamr occurred late Thursday.
Syrian state media and an activist group said the blasts targeted a medical center and a busy market.
Tal Tamr, once inhabited by Assyrian Christians, is now an overwhelmingly Kurdish town where the main Kurdish fighting force in Syria — People's Protection Units, or YPG — is in control. The group is the most effective fighting force against the IS.
Syrian State TV and IS said on Friday the blasts killed 60 people and wounded 90 while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they killed 26, including four Assyrian Christians. The Observatory said 120 people were wounded.
Also Friday, the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, another opposition group that tracks the civil war in Syria, reported that warplanes struck small, primitive oil refineries used by villagers in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. The Observatory said the warplanes were believed to be Russian.
The LCC said seven people were killed and others were wounded while the Observatory said dozens were killed or wounded in the attack on the villages of Zgheer and Kasra.
The Russians and the U.S.-led coalition have been targeting oil facilities in an attempt to deprive IS of one of its main sources of income.
The Islamic State group on Friday accused Somalia's al-Qaida affiliate of killing several jihadi leaders who defected to its side, including a Sudanese sentenced to death for killing a U.S. diplomat in Khartoum and his driver.
A detailed report posted on two IS-affiliated websites on Friday said al-Shabab leaders ordered the killing and detention of dozens of jihadis who expressed their willingness to join IS. They include Mohamed Makawi, a Sudanese who took part in the drive-by shooting of John Ganville and his driver in Khartoum on Jan. 1, 2008.
Makawi and another accomplice, Abdelbasit Haj Hamad, were among four sentenced to death in Sudan for killing Granville but escaped from prison in 2010.
The U.S. offered up to $10 million for information leading to the capture of the two men.
Meanwhile in Washington, the office of Vice President Joe Biden said the top U.S. official spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu by telephone on Thursday to discuss efforts by the United States and Turkey to combat IS.
The leaders also discussed ongoing developments in Iraq, emphasizing the importance of defusing recent tensions between Turkey and the Iraqi government "in a manner that respects Iraqi sovereignty" and fully coordinates counter-IS efforts with the U.S.-led coalition.
Turkey has had troops near the IS-held city of Mosul to help train local Kurdish and Sunni forces since last year but the arrival of additional troops last week sparked uproar in Baghdad. Ankara subsequently halted new deployments.
On Friday, Iraq's Prime Minister issued a formal request for the Foreign Ministry to submit a complaint to the United Nations about the Turkish troops.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
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