Car bombs kill six in pro-Turkey north Syria

Published January 3, 2021
Two car bombings in separate parts of Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria killed six people on Saturday, including children, a war monitor said. — Reuters/File
Two car bombings in separate parts of Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria killed six people on Saturday, including children, a war monitor said. — Reuters/File

BEIRUT: Two car bombings in separate parts of Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria killed six people on Saturday, including children, a war monitor said.

In the first, a car bomb near a vegetable market killed five people including two children in the border town of Ras al-Ain, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A second explosives-rigged vehicle detonated in the town of Jindires in the Afrin region, taking the life of one civilian and wounding nine others including two children, it said.

Such explosions are common in both Ras al-Ain and the Afrin region, which Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies seized from Kurdish fighters in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

The Observatory said at least three of the victims killed in Ras al-Ain were civilians, but the identity of the other two was not immediately clear. Four more were wounded.

The Turkish defence ministry said two children had been killed and two civilians wounded.

Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies in October 2019 seized a 120-kilometre (75-mile) stretch of land inside the Syrian border from Kurdish forces, running from Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad.

They had already taken control of the Afrin region, more than 300 kilometres (180 miles) west of there, in early 2018.

Turkey blamed the Ras al-Ain attack on the Kurdish-led 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 YPG has also played a key role in the US-backed fight against the militant Islamic State group in Syria.

A spate of such bombings have rocked pro-Turkey parts of north Syria over the past years.

On December 10, a car bomb killed 16 people including two civilians and three Turkish personnel at a checkpoint in Ras al-Ain.

On November 24, a car bomb went off near a bakery in Afrin, killing three people and wounding 16 others.

More than 387,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes since Syria’s civil war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Damascus blasts US for sanctions

Syria on Saturday lambasted the US government for sanctions it has imposed on Damascus, following a UN special rapporteur’s statement that called on Washington to remove unilateral sanctions against the war-torn country.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry described US sanctions against the country as equal to crimes against humanity that impact the life of normal citizens as the country looks to rebuild after 10 years of civil war.

The US has imposed sanctions for years on Syrian President Bashar Assad and a number of his top officials. Measures that went into effect in June will also allow US authorities to target foreign companies that do business with some Syrian state institutions.

On Tuesday, UN human rights expert Alena Douhan called on the United States to lift its unilateral sanctions which may inhibit rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure destroyed by the conflict that has killed about half a million people.

Douhan, who is the UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, said American sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people.

Speaking on Wednesday, the US Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn rejected Douhan’s statement as misguided and false.

He said that the blame for Syria’s economic situation and humanitarian crisis falls on Assad’s brutal war against the Syrian people, not on US sanctions.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2021

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