A series of truck bombs in northeast Syria has killed at least 22 people, a monitoring group said Friday, in the latest act of violence that comes amid a new wave of Syrian diplomacy.
The bombs went off near a health center and vegetable market in the Kurdish-held town of Tal Tamer in Hasakeh province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based group, which has a network of contacts on the ground in Syria, said dozens also were wounded in the late Thursday attacks, adding the death toll is likely to rise.
Tel Tamer is controlled by Kurdish YPG forces, which have for months been battling Islamic State extremists in the area, with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.
The YPG is one of the most formidable Western-backed opposition forces to emerge in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria's badly fragmented opposition on Thursday took a step toward unifying when a vast range of rebel groups agreed on a framework for talks with Assad's government.
More than 100 representatives of Syria’s political and armed factions wrapped up the unprecedented meeting in Riyadh with a plan to move forward on efforts to hold talks.
The group still needs to pick its representatives for a negotiating team.
“We know there is still more difficult work to do and not every issue going forward has been resolved,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
The talks in Saudi Arabia resulted from a plan agreed to last month by 20 world powers meeting in Vienna. The so-called International Syria Support Group set a January deadline for the start of talks between the Assad government and moderate opposition groups as part of a broader plan for a political transition in Syria.
The Saudi Press Agency said the opposition groups “agreed that the aim of political settlement is to establish a state based on [the] principle of citizenship with no role of Bashar al-Assad in any political arrangements in the future.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the “positive outcome” of the Riyadh meeting.
“We appreciate that this extremely diverse group of Syrians put aside differences in the interest of building a new Syria,” said Kerry in a Thursday statement.
Earlier, reports indicated that one of Syria’s main rebel groups, the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group, had pulled out of talks.
However, Kirby said the group did participate in the negotiations.
Earlier Thursday, on the sidelines of climate talks in Paris, Kerry said planning is under way for a possible ministerial meeting in New York next week. The meeting would serve as a follow-up to the Vienna talks.
He said officials needed to assess the results of the Saudi meeting before making a decision.
The State Department said there was no initial confirmation on whether officials had decided to move forward with plans for the New York meeting.
In related news, diplomats from the United States, Russia and the United Nations plan to meet Friday in Geneva to discuss ways to advance the peace process in Syria. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson will lead the U.S. delegation.
The U.S. and Russia have struggled to find common ground as they carry out separate military campaigns in Syria, where a civil war has killed more than 250,000 people. Most U.S. airstrikes have targeted the Islamic State extremist group, while Russia's warplanes have mostly hit other Syrian rebel groups, including some backed by the West.