Bomb explodes in Syrian town

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At least 40 civilians, including 11 children, died when a bomb detonated in northern Syrian town Afrin, the Turkish Defence Ministry said blaming the attack on Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

In a statement on Twitter, the ministry said the blast was in a crowded area in Afrin’s centre. A video shared by the ministry showed black smoke in the air with ambulance and police sirens wailing.

The US condemned the attack, which State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said claimed “the lives of dozen shopping in the central market as they prepared to break the Ramadan fast.”

“Initial reports indicate many victims were civilians, including children,” she said in the statement, reiterating a US call for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. “Such cowardly acts are unacceptable from any side in this conflict.”

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish militants on its own soil and mounted military operations in northern Syria to push it back from the border.

Turkey’s military and its Syrian rebel allies seized Afrin, a mainly Kurdish district, from the YPG in March 2018 in a major offensive.

Tuesday’s blast was one of the deadliest in a region under control of Turkish-backed forces. Ankara frequently blames the YPG for attacks, with the militia saying it does not target civilians.