At least 13 killed and 55 injured as a result of sequential blasts hit the northeast and west of Syria in a single day, July 11, 2019. The bombings commenced from the city of Afrin, which is located in the northwest and controlled by the Turkish-backed National Army groups, as a car bomb exploded at the entrance to the city near a checkpoint, leaving 13 dead, including three children and 43 wounded, most of them were taken to Turkey for treatment.
Simultaneously, three explosions rocked the self-declared autonomous region northeast Syria, which is directly controlled by Syrian US-backed Democratic Forces (SDF). Half an hour after the explosion in Afrin, three consecutive motorbike bomb explosions occurred in al-Salhia and Tell Hajar neighborhoods in the province of al-Hasakah causing major material damage and minor injury to a member of the Sootoro (in English the Syriac Protection Office).
The last attack in this series was by a car bombing in the majority Christian al-Wousta neighborhood in Qamishli city, basically close to St. Mary’s Church, causing death to at least 12 civilians, most of them were taken to hospitals.
The Wrath of Olives Operations Room claimed responsibility for the explosion in Afrin and declared the non-affiliation to any military or political party. The Room said that it targeted a checkpoint for the Military Police and the Levant Front/al-Jabha al-Shamia, near a training camp in the village of Turindê in Afrin, in response to the violations and crimes committed by the ‘mercenaries’ and the ‘Turkish Occupation Army’ against people of Afrin. In the same vein, the pro-Autonomous Administration Hawar News Agency published the statement issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room in which the latter claimed responsibility for the latest bombing in Afrin. It’s worth mentioning that it’s not the Hawar News Agency’s first time to disseminate statements issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room about the attacks it conducts in Afrin.
As for the bombings in the cities of al-Hasakah and Qamishli, no party claimed responsibility for them so far, as it’s not known if their preparator was the same or not. Nevertheless, three suspects were arrested against the background of the three bombings occurred in al-Hasakah, as reported by a source from the ‘Asayish’, the Internal Security Forces of the Autonumous Administration.
In a statement, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed saddens and shock at the killing of three children as a result of an attack in the border town of Afrin. The attack comes as violence intensifies in several parts across the war-torn country.
This is not the first time, bombings hit northwest Syria, as in December 2018 and January 2019 Aleppo towns of Afrin, al Bab, al Raie and A’zaz witnessed 11 separate explosions, some were simultaneous, carried out by unknown perpetrators. The attacks left no less than 127 people dead, including children and women. The military police took action in response by arresting five suspects.
During January 2019, 31 civilians and militaries killed, including members of the international coalition, as a result of a bombing, believed to be suicidal, in the city of Manbij, Aleppo. The Islamic State (aka ISIL) claimed responsibility for the incident, but the investigations into it, however, are continuing.
1. A bombing claimed the lives of 13, including children, in Afrin
On the morning of July 11, 2019, a car bomb went off at the southern entrance to the city of Afrin, near a checkpoint of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces. The explosion resulted in the killing of 13 people, mostly civilians and the injury of 43 others, including children and women. A witness, who owns a shop near the explosion site, confirmed that the car was parked at the place where it blasted and was not driven by a suicidal. The witness went on to say:
“On my way to work at about 8.00am, I saw a fuel tankers parked next to the electrical power generator of the neighborhood and after less than an hour I learned that it was exploded near a checkpoint jointly controlled by the military police and the Levant Front. I dared not reaching the explosion site at first, since there were massive plumes of smoke. However, minutes after I heard that there were women and children trapped under rubble, so I rushed there with many others and cooperated in pulling out the victims’ bodies and taking the wounded to hospitals. Civil defense teams arrived after half an hour and helped in removing bodies and transferring the injured, mostly seriously, to the Turkish hospitals. Meanwhile, the Levant Front was pulling the bodies of its members only and then imposed a security cordon around the explosion site fearing further attack.”
Local activists in Afrin confirmed to STJ that the car bomb attack took place at 9.00am and said:
“The bombing resulted in the death of eight civilians, including no less than three children and four fighters of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition armed groups in addition to a non-identified man, and the injury of others who were taken to the Turkish hospitals for treatment. The explosion also caused mass fires and damaged the nearby buildings.”
Local activists could identify some of those killed by the bombing, which rocked Afrin in July 2019. They are:
- Shadi Abu Habra, 35.
- Ghina Abu Habra, 6.
- Mustafa Idrees, 8.
- Amjad al-Daher, 34.
- Abdul Kader Janou, 45.
- Subhia Osou, 50.
- Muhammad Jasem al-Janoud.
- Wael Sa’ad al-Deen, 30.
The Wrath of Olives Operations Room claimed responsibility for the explosion in Afrin and declared that it is not affiliated to any military or political party. It said that it targeted a checkpoint for the Military Police and the Levant Front, which is stationed near a training camp in the village of Turindê in Afrin, in response to the violations and crimes committed by the ‘mercenaries’ and the ‘Turkish Occupation Army’ against the people of Afrin. In the same vein, the pro-Autonomous Administration Hawar News Agency published the statement of the Wrath of Olives Operations Room in which the latter claimed responsibility for the latest bombing in Afrin.
The statement issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room through which it claimed responsibility for the bombing in Afrin on July 11, 2019. Photo credit: The Wrath of Olives Operations Room’s Facebook page.
The Facebook post published by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room in which it says that the number of people killed has risen to 25. Photo credit: The Wrath of Olives Operations Room’s Facebook page.
As it usually does, the Hawar News Agency disseminated the statement issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room, in which the latter claimed responsibility for the recent attack in Afrin.
The statement issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room through which it claimed responsibility for the bombing in Afrin. Photo credit: The Hawar News Agency.
STJ’s IT specialist said:
After tracking the Wrath of Olives Operations Room’s website and social media accounts, it turned out that the domains it uses registered at an American company called ‘Name Cheap’, which provides information hiding and protecting features that don’t allow the client’s true information to be shown. Instead it shows fake information as in the case of the Room’s website which is appeared to be administered from Banama.
Whereas the Room’s Facebook page appeared to be run from Syria by two admins, whose identities could be known only by a court order if the American low permits that. The same applies to its accounts on other social media platforms like YouTube, a court order from Europe needed to know their admins, STJ’s IT specialist added.
The Wrath of Olives Operations Room’s Facebook page info, which shows that it is run from Syria. Photo credit: The Wrath of Olives Operations Room’s Facebook page.
According to STJ field researcher the Wrath of Olives Operations Room had claimed responsibility for several previous bombings in Afrin. Among them was a car bomb at the cultural center, which is used as a headquarters by the Turkish-backed Ahrar al Sharqiya group. The explosion killed three members of the group and injured two others. The Wrath of Olives Operations Room claimed responsibility in a statement published in its official website.
On February 21, 2019, 35 people, mostly civilians, killed in a car bomb rocked al Vellat Street in Afrin city center. Responsibly for this bomb was also claimed by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room through a statement on its official website.
2. Four bombings hit northeast Syria following the one rocked Afrin
Less than half an hour following the bombing in Afrin, three consecutive motorbike bomb explosions occurred in the al-Salhia and Tell Hajar neighborhoods in the province of al-Hasakah. The first two bombs resulted in a material damage while the third caused minor injury to a member of the Asayish.
A resident of al Hasakah, who was near the bomb site confirmed to STJ that the explosion took place at 9.30am next to the al Mashhamah roundabout in al-Salhia neighborhood by a bomb attached to a motorcycle. However, the explosion caused only material damage.
Other eyewitnesses said that the second bombing took place after about 20 minutes within 100 meters in the same neighborhood, specifically in al Masaken area. The rescue forces of the Asayish managed to contain the fire resulted from the explosion, preventing it from reaching houses. However, the incident only caused minor damage to a car parked on the side of the road.
A third bombing took place in ten minutes at a military point of the Sootoro in Tell Hajar neighborhood near the railroad tracks in the province of al Hasakah. According to STJ field researcher, the bombing was carried out by a motorcycle bomb and caused minor injury to a member of the Sootoro forces.
The site of one of the motorbike bombing attacks that hit the city of al-Hasakah on July 11, 2019. Photo credit: The Hawar News Agency.
In the wake of the bombing series in al-Hasakah, the Asayish forces imposed a security cordon around the city and intensified its patrols to prevent further attacks. It also imposed a one-week curfew for riding motorbikes in the city. The Hawar News Agency published the circulation of the curfew decision made by the Autonomous Administration on July 11, 2019, which provided for preventing both civilians and militaries from riding motorbikes for a week started from 3.00pm of Thursday July 11. When the week is over, only the motorbikes holding number plates licensed by the Autonomous Administration would be allowed to be ridden every day from 6.00am to 8.00pm.
The decision issued by the Asayish provides for the partial ban on riding motorbikes in al-Hasakah, after a series of bombings witnessed by the city on July 11, 2019. Photo credit: the media center of the Asayish.
The last attack in the bombing series of July 11, 2019, took place in front of St. Mary’s Church in the al-Wousta neighborhood in Qamishli, which is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A car bomb was detonated near the church’s door leaving 12 civilian casualties. Most of those wounded were transferred to hospitals, as 7 were admitted to al-Rahma hospital, 3 to Dar al-Shifa’a hospital and 2 to al-Salam hospital. The medical staff at the three hospitals confirmed that the injuries were all minor, as reported by STJ field researcher.
The aftermath of the car bombing attack in front of St. Mary’s Church in al-Wousta neighborhood in Qamishli on July 11, 2019. Photo credit: local activists.
Parties behind the bombings in al-Hasakah and Qamishli are not yet ascertained. but meanwhile the Asayish pursue its inquiries to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable.
STJ field researcher reported a motorbike bomb in al-Talae’ neighborhood in al-Hasakah on June 15, 2019, which killed two members of the Asayish forces.
3. Denouncing and condemning the recent bombings
The recent bombings in the northeast and west of Syria were condemned by several bodies including the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) which denounced the bombing at the St. Mary’s Church in the city of Qamishli, through a statement by the head of its political branch Gabriel Moushe Gawrieh, who said: “the city has dodged a massacre staged against the crowds of worshippers, children’s choir, women and elderlies who were in the church. But providence wanted the car to blast minutes before the end of prayers and the worshippers’ departure.” Gawrieh added that the Syrian Government and the Autonomous Administration are both to blame for such incidents, as they are the ones responsible for protecting civilians and thus had to take measures to stop ‘terrorists’ and prevent them from committing further crimes. He also called for urgent and transparent investigations into the incident and to put the findings up in the public domain, to prevent the recurrence of such incidents which specifically targeting Assyrian people and the Christian community in general. And it also disturbing the domestic peace in Syria’s Jazira Region, in his words.
 Notably the Levant Front, the Sultan Murad Division and the Ahrar al-Sharqiya group.
 The Sootoro forces formed in 2013. It is affiliated to the Syriac Military Council which falls under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
 The Wrath of Olives Operations Room defined itself as a retaliatory movement, not affiliated to any military or political party. Its members are young men and women from Afrin, who aims to take revenge from the ‘mercenaries’ and the ‘Turkish Occupation Army’ for the violations and crimes they committed against the people of Afrin city after they seized control over it. http://www.xzeytune.com/2018/08/24/%d8%a5%d9%84%d9%89-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b1%d8%a3%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b9%d8%a7%d9%85/.
 “Attack in Afrin, Syria, kills three children and causes significant damage to school”, UNICEF, July 12, 2019
 The Wrath of Olives Operations room’s Facebook page, July 11, 2019 https://www.facebook.com/429971067483083/posts/676367042843483/.
 The Facebook page of the Wrath of Olives Operations room, July 12, 2019.
 “The Wrath of Olives Operations Room claims responsibility for the bombing in Afrin and declared the death of 16 mercenaries as a result”, Hawar News Agency, July 11, 2019
 “A statement issued by the Wrath of Olives Operations Room”, January 23, 2019 http://www.xzeytune.com/2019/01/24/%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%A3%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85-24/.
 A statement issued by the media center of the Asayish (in north and east Syria), July 11, 2019.https://www.asayish.org/2019/07/11/%d8%a8%d9%8a%d8%a7%d9%86-%d8%b5%d8%a7%d8%af%d8%b1-%d8%b9%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%b1%d9%83%d8%b2-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a5%d8%b9%d9%84%d8%a7%d9%85%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b9%d8%a7%d9%85-%d9%84%d9%82-27/amp/?fbclid=IwAR1Ag9NliD982Dl2yqg8a5DAuv8R6rk8j2cu-hfpYUc-ZHQlHdswWIeCN40.
 “The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) condemns the bombing at the Virgin Mary church in Qamishli”, July 11, 2019 https://www.facebook.com/1004634349564944/posts/2765192983509063/.