Beirut, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- Forty-two people were killed and 40 others injured Tuesday when a truck carrying fuel exploded at a market in the Turkish-held northern Syrian city of Afrin, according to the group known as the White Helmets.
Members of the group witnessed “indescribable scenes” in the wake of the blast, the White Helmets said, denouncing the “diabolical explosion of a vehicle bomb.”
The explosion took place on the fifth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as the market was packed with people buying food for the sunset meal that comes at the end of the daylight fast.
The Turkish Defense Ministry accused the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of “massacring 35 innocent civilians in an attack with a bomb oil truck in the urban center of Afrin, a place with a high density of civilians.”
The YPG, comprising Syrian Kurds, battles Islamic State and al-Qaeda as part of a coalition with other non-government forces.
Ankara, however, labels the YPG as “terrorists” due to their ostensible links to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an active Kurdish militia in Turkey.
Turkish troops have repeatedly clashed with the YPG in Syria.
Attacks are common in Afrin and other towns in Turkish-occupied northern Syria, but those incidents do not typically result in high casualties.
The cause of Tuesday’s explosion remains unknown and no group has claimed responsibility.
Turkey effectively controls a swath of northern Syria extending from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates River following a pair of invasions in 2016 and 2018
In 2019, Turkish forces invaded the Kurdish region of northern Syria that lies east of the Euphrates, but an international outcry forced the Turks to halt the offensive before accomplishing their objective of strengthening Ankara’s grip on the border region. EFE