Friday 9 December 2016

'The deeper we dug, it was just body parts' - Irish medic in Syria

Robin Schiller

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

A photo released by the Syrian official news agency Sana, shows Syrians carrying the body of a victim from a building damaged when twin bombings struck the Kurdish town of Qamishli, where an Irish medic is based (SANA via AP)
A photo released by the Syrian official news agency Sana, shows Syrians carrying the body of a victim from a building damaged when twin bombings struck the Kurdish town of Qamishli, where an Irish medic is based (SANA via AP)

An Irishman working in Syria as a medic has described the devastation caused by Islamic State (Isil) suicide bombers.

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Calvin James Sweeney, who has been living in the city of Qamishli for five months, arrived on the scene shortly after two bombs claimed the lives of at least 50 people.

Young children were reported to be among the dead, while a further 140 people were injured. The Dublin native lives just 800m away from the bomb blasts which he said targeted a civilian area, describing the aftermath as "absolute carnage".

Mr Sweeney also explained how the area had been "rather peaceful" in the last number of months, and that the latest attack "came out of nowhere".

"Living conditions are generally fine, I'm living in Qamishli five months now. We've had four suicide bombs mostly targeting military checkpoints.

"There were group battles in April between the regime and Kurdish forces, but other than that it's been a rather peaceful place, this came out of nowhere," he said. "We haven't had much activity with the Islamic State, just the occasional suicide bomber; they target the Christian or Armenian quarters but nothing like we have seen today.

"There was about a 100m radius where complete building blocks were levelled. We didn't find many survivors, we were taking full corpses out and the deeper we dug, it was just body parts," he told RTE's 'Six One'.

It is believed a truck loaded with explosives blew up on the western edge of the town, targeting a building controlled by a Kurdish security agency.

Minutes later, a motorcycle also packed with explosives blew up in the same area.

Isil has since claimed responsibility for the two atrocities.

The terror group said the suicide bombings were a "response to the crimes committed by the coalition warplanes against the vulnerable people of men, women and children in Manbij City".

US-led airstrikes in the Isil- controlled city have killed over 100 people and injured more since the beginning of June.

Irish Independent

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