Two blasts kill seven in Syrian rebel-held northwest near Turkish border

(Middle East Monitor) Two bomb blasts killed at least seven people and wounded scores on Tuesday in areas of northwest Syria near the Turkish border and under heavy Turkish influence, witnesses and police sources said.

Five people were killed and 20 wounded, some critically, in a blast that exploded at a road junction on the outskirts of the city of al Bab, north of Aleppo province, they said.

A few hours later, at least two civilians were killed and 17 wounded in a car blast in the city of Afrin, a mainly Kurdish area which Turkish forces and their Syrian allies took from the Kurdish YPG militia in 2018.

Videos posted on social media showed footage of mangled cars and extensive damage to an industrial area with fires burning. Reuters could not immediately vouch for their authenticity.

Civil defence officials said the death toll was expected to rise.

The two cities, which Turkey administers with the help of Syrian Arab rebels it backs, have in the last year been frequently hit by bombings detonated in crowded civilian areas.

Turkey and its rebel allies accuse the YPG of carrying out the blasts that have killed dozens in the mainly Arab populated towns near the border under their control, saying their goal is to make them ungovernable and sow fear among civilians.

There was no immediate comment from the YPG, which has denied previous accusations of attacks on civilians. It says it only targets Turkish soldiers and their allies in a guerrilla campaign to drive out “occupiers”.

The YPG says Ankara wants to drive out Kurds and settle Arabs.

Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group tied to the PKK inside its own borders and has staged incursions into Syria in support of Syrian rebels to push it from the Turkish frontier.

Ankara now retains a large military presence in the area deploying thousands of troops in the last rebel enclave.

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