Car bomb in market of opposition-held Syrian town kills 4

BEIRUT (AP) — A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters Monday, killing at least four people, rescue workers and a war monitor said.

Turkey’s president, meanwhile, said his country was losing patience with attacks from Syria targeting Turkey.

The bomb exploded in a market in the town of Afrin in Aleppo province. Volunteers with the Syrian Civil Defense, rescuers who operate in opposition areas, said the death toll would likely rise. The civil defense group said a woman was among those killed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at six, including suspected opposition fighters. The bodies were badly charred, it said.

The explosion hit near the market in the town center not far from a post for the dominant armed group in the area, the Army of Islam, according to the Observatory. It said 12 people were also wounded, including two children.

Turkey and allied Syrian fighters took control of Afrin in 2018 in an operation that expelled local Kurdish fighters and displaced thousands of Kurdish residents. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters who were in control of Afrin to be terrorists. Since then, there have been several attacks on Turkish targets in the area.

The town has since been the site of repeated car bombings that largely go unclaimed.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting that Ankara was determined to “eliminate” the threats against Turkey either by itself or in collaboration with other forces there.

Erdogan’s comments came a day after two Turkish police officers were killed in a guided missile attack on their armored vehicle in Aleppo. Turkish officials blamed the attack on Turkey on the militia of Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Ankara views as the Syrian offshoot of outlawed Kurdish militants fighting government forces in Turkey.

Earlier on Monday, mortars allegedly fired by the YPG from Syria’s Jarablus region landed in the Turkish border town of Karkamis, causing damage to a house, the private DHA news agency reported. There were no injuries. The U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces denied involvement.

“We no longer have patience for terror attacks against our country coming from certain places,” Erdogan told reporters following a Cabinet meeting. “We are determined to eliminate the threats arising from these areas together with the forces that are active there or through our own means. … We will take the necessary steps to resolve these issues as soon as possible.

“The latest attack on our police officers and the harassment targeting our lands is the last straw,” he said.

Erdogan did not elaborate and it was not clear if he was referring to U.S. or Russian forces that present in northern Syria.

Turkey has carried out three military offensives into Syria to fight IS militants and to drive Kurdish militia away from its border.

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