At least 40 civilians were killed, including 11 children, when a bomb exploded Tuesday in the town of Afrin, in northern Syria, said the Turkish Ministry of Defense, blaming the attack on the Kurdish militia Syrian YPG.
In a statement on Twitter, the ministry said the explosion occurred in an overcrowded area in central Afrin. A video shared by the ministry showed black smoke in the air while ambulance and police sirens were moaning in the background.
The United States condemned the attack on Tuesday, whose State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said “the lives of dozens of people shopping in the central market as they prepare to break up Ramadan fasting. “
“Initial reports indicate that many of the victims were civilians, including children,” she said in the statement, reiterating the United States’ call for a national ceasefire in Syria. “Such acts of cowardice and evil are unacceptable on any side in this conflict.”
Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish militants on its own soil and has mounted military operations in northern Syriato to push it back from the border.
The Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies seized YPG in Afrin, a mainly Kurdish district, in March 2018 during a major offensive.
Tuesday’s explosion was one of the deadliest to hit an area under the control of Turkish-backed forces. Ankara frequently blames the YPG for the attacks, while the militia say it does not target civilians.