Car bomb explodes in Syrian town captured by Turkey from Kurds
By Associated Press in Istanbul
30 - 39 minutes
A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town along the border with Turkey on Saturday, killing 13 people. Turkey’s defence ministry said about 20 others were wounded when the bomb exploded in central Tal Abyad, which forces backed by Ankara captured from Kurdish-led fighters last month.
The ministry harshly condemned the attack, which it blamed on Syrian Kurdish fighters, and called on the international community to take a stance against this “cruel terror organisation”. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Turkey invaded north-eastern Syria last month to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters, whom it considers terrorists because of their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said earlier on Saturday that Christian fighters would now oversee security in a northern Syrian region where troops backed by Turkey have clashed with and Kurdish-led militias.
The SDF said the deployment would take place in villages close to the town of Tal Tamr in the Khabur river region. The area is home to Syria’s dwindling Christian Syriac and Assyrian communities.
The SDF said it was deploying the Syriac Military Council and Assyrian fighters in the Khabur river region. Both groups are part of the SDF.
The announcement came a day after Turkey and Russia launched joint patrols in north-eastern Syria under a deal that halted a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, who were forced to withdraw from the border area following Ankara’s incursion.
The truce has mostly held, but it has been marred by accusations of violations from both sides and occasional clashes. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has threatened to resume the offensive if he deems it necessary.
The Syrian Kurds had been Washington’s top allies in the fight against Islamic State, a relationship that had strained ties between the US and Turkey, which are both members of Nato.
Christians made up about 10% of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million. They coexisted peacefully with the Muslim majority and enjoyed freedom of worship under President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Many have left for Europe over the past 20 years, however, their flight gathering speed significantly since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011.