A car bomb killed a dozen people and injured 30 on Saturday in a market of a Syrian border town that Turkish-backed forces seized last month. Turkey blames Kurdish terror for the car bombing.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said pro-Turkey fighters and civilians were among the dead and injured in Tel Abyad. Turkey’s Anadolu Agency said the YPG Kurds killed 13 after a “bomb-laden vehicle” exploded. It is likely the Syrian rebels will retaliate with a bomb of their own.
Tel Abyad is one of two major border towns that saw the heaviest fighting after Ankara launched its anti-YPG incursion on Oct. 9. The Syrian Kurdish YPG had for years been allied with the United States in the fight against Islamic State. In return, the Kurds received promises of Kurdish autonomy. During their fight against the Islamic State, the Kurds cleansed northeastern Syria of all Arab land owners.
Turkey considers the YPG, a PKK-connected organization, a terror group. Their enmity dates back to conflicts that began in 1978.
The explosion comes after two weeks of relative calm in northeastern Syria. It also comes after Turkish and Russian troops began joint ground patrols under a deal between the two countries. That deal pushed the YPG from Turkey’s border.
While Moscow has said the YPG have withdrawn to at least 30 km from the border under the deal, Ankara has been skeptical and held out the possibility of new attacks if members of what it sees as a terrorist group remain.
KURDS CLEANSED NORTHEASTERN SYRIA OF ARABS
Turkey’s defense ministry said on Twitter:
We condemn this inhuman attack of the bloody PKK/YPG terrorists who attacked the innocent civilians of Tel Abyad who returned to their homes and lands as a result of the Operation Peace Spring.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also pointed the finger at the YPG.
A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes the YPG, was not immediately available for comment.
KURDISH LONG HISTORY OF MILITANCY AGAINST TURKEY
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), based in Turkey, is designated a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its ties to PKK Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey.
Days after President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision on Oct. 6 to pull out U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, Turkey and allied Syrian rebels launched a cross-border offensive and seized control of Tel Abyad and some 120 km of land along the frontier.
Ceasefire deals Ankara struck first with Washington and then with Moscow halted fighting in recent weeks. The UK-based Observatory has said the offensive has displaced some 300,000 people. It also killed 120 civilians.
The incursion, which was condemned by scores of countries in the West and the Middle East, left the Turkey-backed rebel Syrian National Army largely in control of Tel Abyad.
Turkey’s defense ministry published photographs of concrete and debris piled on a street in the town. Anadolu said some of those the Kurds wounded in the blast Turkey is treating in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa 55 km to the north.
On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had information that the YPG had not completed its pullout from the border region. He has warned that Turkey reserves the right to resume attacks.
The Turkish-Russian deal last week allowed Syrian government forces to move back into border regions from which they had been absent for years.