ISTANBUL – A car bomb in Syria killed eight people and wounded more than 20 on Sunday in the sector in the north of the country currently under Turkey’s control, Ankara said.
“Eight civilians lost their lives and more than 20 were wounded in an attack by a booby-trapped vehicle,” a defense ministry statement said.
The statement blamed the attack on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, viewed by Ankara as an offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has fought an insurgency inside Turkey for the past 35 years.
But the force was until recently backed by Washington in the U.S. fight against jihadi fighters in Syria.
The attack happened in Suluk, a village about 20 km (12 miles) southeast of the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, according to Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory gave a lower death toll, saying five people were killed and 13 wounded, with both civilians and fighters among the dead. It did not say who carried out the attack.
Turkish forces and their proxies — former Syrian rebels hired as a ground force by Ankara — launched a deadly offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria on Oct. 9.
They acted days after U.S. 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 group in Syria.
The Turkish push was aimed at seizing a strip of land roughly 30 km deep along the 440-km border between the two countries.
Ankara says it wants to establish a “safe zone” there in which to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts on its soil.
The invasion has displaced tens of thousands and left dozens of civilians dead, forcing Kurdish forces to retreat from some key towns.