Two suicide car bombs have gone off near Al Bab, killing scores of people, just a day after ISIL fighters were pushed out of the northern Syrian town.
Friday’s first bombing killed 53 people in the village of Susiyan, 10km northwest of Al Bab, and struck Syrian rebels battling ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, local sources said.
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The second explosion took place a few hours later and left eight dead, according to the Aleppo Media Center and Thiqa News agency, media platforms operated by opposition activists.
The first suicide bomber targeted a checkpoint manned by Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters that was crowded with civilians early on Friday.
The Turkish-backed rebels on Thursday drove ISIL from Al Bab, the group’s last significant stronghold in northwest Syria, along with two smaller neighbouring towns, Qabasin and al-Bezah, after weeks of street fighting.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmad Assaf, reporting from the scene of the bombing in Susiyan, said the attacker blew himself up in a large gathering of displaced people.
“Dozens of civilians have been killed and injured, many of them trying to return back to their homes in Al Bab,” he said.
He added that several cars and motorbikes were destroyed in the powerful blast.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency said at least 41 wounded were taken for treatment to the Turkish border town of Kilis.
On Thursday, several Turkish-backed Syrian rebels were killed by a mine in Al Bab while clearing the town of unexploded ordnance after ISIL retreated, according to reports.
Syria’s main conflict pits President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Shia militias, against rebels that include groups supported by Turkey, the US and Arab Gulf countries.
However, both those sides, as well as a group of militias led by Kurdish forces and supported by the US, are also fighting ISIL, which holds large expaneses of northern and eastern Syria.
Turkey directly intervened in Syria in August in support of a group of rebel factions fighting under the FSA banner to drive ISIL from its border.
It also wants to stop Kurdish groups from gaining control of most of the frontier.
In Geneva on Friday, the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, held his second day of meetings with government and opposition delegations in a bid to move closer to a political solution to end the war.
For the Syrian opposition, a political transition that ensures the removal of President Bashar al-Assad remains the only option for peace – an issue that his Damascus-based government has consistently refused to consider.