A bomb detonated on an oil tanker in the northern Syrian city of Afrin killed at least 40 people and wounded some 47 others, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry said the blast was a “terrorist attack” carried out using a bomb-rigged fuel tanker. Ankara held Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) responsible for the attack.
United Kingdom-based-war monitor claimed 46 people were killed in the attack. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had monitored several charred bodies, including those of nine Turkish-backed fighters. It did not cite who was behind the attack.
Several buildings in the central Afrin were damaged where the fuel tanker exploded, according to the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency.
It was one of the most massive blasts in Afrin since Turkish troops and allied fighters seized the region from Kurdish forces in March 2018 after a two-month air and ground offensive.
Turkey designates PKK, an armed group that has waged a separatist insurgency since 1984, as a terrorist organization.
Ankara has been struggling to clear the area east of the Euphrates River of the YPG and its political wing, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) accusing the groups of cooperating with the PKK.
The YPG is known for its spearhead role in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria alongside the US-led international coalition during the nine-year-old civil war in the country.