Explosion kills at least 10 people in Syrian border town taken by Turkish forces
At least 10 people were killed and 25 wounded when a car bomb exploded yesterday in a Syrian border town seized by Turkish-backed forces last month, witnesses and a rescuer said.
Tel Abyad was one of two border towns that experienced some of the heaviest fighting when Ankara launched its cross-border offensive on October against Kurdish YPG forces in north-east Syria.
The YPG – which Ankara considers a terrorist group because of its ties to Kurdish PKK militants in south-east Turkey – had for years been allied to the United States in the fight against ISIS. Turkey began the incursion after President Donald Trump
pulled US troops out of the area. Yesterday’s blast caused extensive damage to a main street in Tel Abyad, sending thick smoke into the air above the wreckage, videos posted on social media showed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British war monitor, said four civilians from the same family were among those killed by the explosion, which the local council said residents blamed on the YPG and PKK.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry also accused the YPG of carrying out the attack, which it said had killed three people and wounded 20, while a senior spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces accused “Turkish-backed mercenaries” of being responsible.
“After expelling the majority of Kurds, looting almost all the shops and houses in this Kurdish district of Tel Abyad, Turkish-backed mercenaries are now attempting to displace the remaining Kurdish population from their homes by random explosions in civilian areas,” Mustafa Bali, the head of SDF’s media office, tweeted.
Similar blasts frequently hit crowded civilian areas in the mainly Arab-populated towns near the border with Turkey.
The Kurdish-led militias say their fighters are engaged in a guerrilla campaign against Turkish forces but deny attacking civilians.
Elsewhere, SDF fighters fought off an attack on Saturday by Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies on the town of Ain Issa, where the force has bases and offices.
“Turkish forces launched attacks with tanks, artillery and a large number of mercenaries... to invade Ain Issa,” the SDF said. The Observatory said Turkish drones and artillery batteries were backing pro-Ankara fighters in clashes a kilometre from the town.
“The SDF are trying to prevent Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies from advancing towards the town,” Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman said.
Ain Issa lies on the southern edge of the “safe zone” inside Syria that Turkey wants to clear of Kurdish fighters, and on the M4 highway that runs east to west across the northern part of the country.
Turkey said it would suspend its military operation after an October 22 deal with Moscow, but its forces have continued to inch forward ever since, the Observatory says.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry also accused the Kurdish YPG of carrying out the attack
People help a woman past a burning car after an explosion in the northern Syrian town of Tel Abyad yesterday