Fuel truck bomb kills at least 40 people in Turkish area of northern Syria
ISTANBUL-- An explosion of a fuel truck used as a bomb killed 40 people in the Turkish-controlled northern Syrian town of Afrin on Tuesday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.
The ministry blamed Kurdish militants for the blast in a crowded area of downtown Afrin and said 11 children were among the victims of the blast, which had targeted “innocent civilians.” Another 47 people were wounded, the ministry tweeted.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters drove the Peoples’ Defence Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia, out of Afrin in a 2018 intervention. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been fighting Ankara since 1984 and is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and Europe.
Turkey has staged two other interventions into northern Syria in recent years to push the YPG back from the Turkish border. Ankara says an autonomous zone created by the YPG in the area was a “terrorist corridor” and a threat to Turkey’s national security.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the blast occurred in a market in Afrin and killed 36 people, including women and children, and wounded about 40 others. The Observatory and other activists said the death toll could rise because some of the wounded were in critical condition.
The ANF news agency, which is close to the PKK, said the explosion in Afrin occurred close to Turkish soldiers and members of the pro-Turkish Sultan Murad militia, killing “at least 15 mercenaries.”
Similar blasts in areas controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters have killed scores of people in recent months, attacks that Ankara blamed on Kurdish fighters.