Market blast in north Syria kills 15 people, wounds dozens

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Beirut: A rocket attack on a crowded market in a town held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria on Friday killed 15 people and wounded dozens, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group reported.

The attack on the town of al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, blamed Syrian government forces for the shelling on Friday, saying it was in retaliation for the Turkish airstrike.

The Observatory said the attack killed 15 people, including three children, and wounded more than 30.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, had the same death but said 28 were wounded. The paramedic group said its members evacuated some of the wounded and the dead bodies.

“This is the worst massacres committed by regime forces since the battles stopped between the regime and the opposition,” said the Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman referring to a cease-fire in March 2020 that ended a wide Syrian government offensive on rebel-held areas.

The US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that its fighters did not shell al-Bab. There was no comment from the government.

Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls some territories in the north.

Although the fighting has waned over the past few years, shelling and airstrikes are not uncommon in northern Syria that is home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

President Bashar Assad’s forces have regained control of most parts of Syria over the past few years, with the help of their allies, Russia and Iran.


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