ISTANBUL – A car bomb killed at least 17 people and wounded 20 others in the Turkish-controlled region of northern Syria on Tuesday, Turkey’s defense ministry said.
The attack took place in the Tal Halaf village west of the city of Ras al-Ayn, which is now controlled by the Turkish military after its offensive in October, the ministry said on its official Twitter account.
It blamed the attack on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara accuses of being the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984.
“The PKK/YPG terror group continues its car bombings aimed at civilians. The child murderers this time detonated a car bomb in Tal Halaf village west of Ras al-Ayn, killing 17 people and wounding more than 20,” the defense ministry said on Twitter.
Britain-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 — had been killed.
But 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 Oct. 9.
The military action came 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.
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.