A car bomb explosion has killed 17 people and wounded 20 others near a Syrian border town seized by Turkey-backed forces last month, the Turkish defence ministry said on Tuesday.
The bomb struck Tel Halaf village, west of the town of Ras al-Ain, which saw some of the heaviest fighting when Ankara launched a military offensive in the area against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) last month.
Several vehicles were reduced to charred shells by the blast at a village market, images from the scene showed.
The Turkish defence ministry blamed the attack on the YPG, which Ankara accuses of being the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), that has waged an armed rebellion against Turkey since 1984.
“Showing a much worse attitude than Daesh, the PKK/YPG terror group continues its car bombings aimed at civilians,” the ministry posted on Twitter.
Showing a much worse attitude than DAESH, the PKK/YPG terror group continues its car bombings aimed at civilians. The child murderers this time detonated a car bomb in Tel Halef village west of Ras al-Ayn, killing 17 people and wounding more than 20. pic.twitter.com/vaZI15cMg4
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) November 26, 2019
UK-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the attack but gave a lower toll, saying 11 people – including at least three civilians – were killed.
However, it said the death toll is likely to climb due to the severity of some of the injuries suffered.
Turkish forces and their proxies – former Syrian rebels hired as a ground force by Ankara – launched an offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria on October 9.
The military action came after US President Donald Trump ordered his troops to withdraw in a move that observers condemned as a betrayal of their Kurdish partners in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group in Syria.
In its operation, Turkey secured a strip of land in northern Syria after signing separate deals with the US and Russia.
Ankara says it wants to establish a “safe zone” in which to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts on its soil.