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Bombing hits area near Syrian city held by Turkish forces, kills 8

Turkish-backed Syrian militants walk in the town of Tal Abyad, in northeast Syria, on October 25, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

At least eight people have lost their lives and some 20 others sustained injuries in a bomb explosion in an area of northeast Syria near the Turkish-occupied town of Tal Abyad.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the explosion struck Suluk, a town south of the Syrian city of Tal Abyad, which was captured last month by Turkish troops.

The ministry blamed Syrian Kurdish militants for the attack, accusing them of “massacring innocent civilians.”

An emergency worker said a small truck exploded outside a bakery there.

The attack came more than a week after a similar car bomb attack in central Tal Abyad killed over a dozen people.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from border areas. The military offensive has since displaced around 200,000 people.

​Syrian civilians ride in the back of a truck as they flee villages where fighting continues in the countryside of Tal Abyad, as Turkey-backed militants take over the area between the northeastern town and Kobane on October 24, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Ankara is seeking the establishment of a 32-kilometer “safe zone” clear from the presence of Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria. Turkey wants the area to be used for the relocation of two million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

After seizing a 120-km swathe of land along the border, Turkey struck deals with the US and Russia to keep the Kurdish militants out of that so-called buffer zone.

On October 22, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants must withdraw from the Turkish-controlled “safe zone” within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols within the area.

Ankara regards the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in the Anatolian country since 1984.

The Kurdish groups have asked Syrian government forces to halt Turkey’s advance. Despite a shaky truce brokered by Russia, Syrian government forces have since clashed with Turkish troops and Turkey-backed fighters.

Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria has caused widespread alarm.

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