Not less than 46 civilians including 11 children have died in a bomb explosion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin.
The blast which occurred on Tuesday April 28, 2020, was one of the deadliest to hit a region under the control of Turkish-backed forces.
Another 50 people were wounded in the explosion in a crowded street of Afrin. Turkey’s defence ministry blamed the attack on the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia.
Photos released by the Syrian Civil Defence rescue workers, also known as the White Helmets, showed firefighters battling to douse flames amid gutted buildings and rescue workers carrying charred bodies away from the scene on makeshift stretchers.
A video showed black smoke billowing in the air while ambulance and police sirens wailed in the background.
“The enemy of humanity PKK/YPG has once again targeted innocent civilians in Afrin,” the Turkish ministry said on Twitter.
The United States condemned the attack, which State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, “Claimed the lives of dozens of people 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 of evil are unacceptable from any side in this conflict.”
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitor with a network of sources inside Syria, said, “At least 46 people had been killed and 50 wounded, some critically, adding the death toll could rise.”
“At least six pro-Turkish Syrian fighters were among the dead,” he added.