At least six people were killed and over 25 injured late Saturday in an explosion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian rebels. According to Ankara’s defense ministry, a car bomb detonated in the town’s center allegedly by the Syrian Kurdish group YPG caused severe damage to surrounding buildings. The Kurdish organization, which has not claimed responsibility for the blast, says it is fighting for independence for the millions of Kurds in the region, and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, which claims it is closely linked with the outlawed PKK Kurdish party within Turkey. In October 2019, mere days after former President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria, Ankara launched a massive offensive into the region along with local Syrian rebels, aimed at clearing the areas near the Turkish border of Kurdish soldiers. Though the operation was eventually halted by a Russian-American-Turkish deal, which included a cease-fire and joint patrols by Russian and Turkish troops, Ankara still controls large swaths of territory in northern Syria.
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