Car bomb kills seven at crowded market in Syrian town near Turkish border

The blast occurred in the Syrian opposition city of Azaz during peak late night shopping after breaking the day’s Ramadan fast.

ALEPPO, SYRIA - JANUARY 31: A view of the site after a bomb-laden vehicle exploded near Syrian Interim Government building and Azez Cultural Center building in Azaz district of Aleppo, Syria on January 31, 2021. 1 civilian killed, 8 injured in the attack according to initial reports.
Rescuers gather after a bomb-laden vehicle exploded near a Syrian interim government building and the Azaz Cultural Center building in the Azaz district of Aleppo, Syria [File: Bekir Kasim/Anadolu]

At least seven people have been killed and 30 others injured after a car bomb went off in a busy marketplace in the Syrian opposition city of Azaz in the northern Aleppo province.

Residents and rescuers told the Reuters news agency the blast late on Saturday occurred as residents were shopping after breaking their fast as part of activities in the ongoing Muslim month of Ramadan.

Syria’s Civil Defence forces – The White Helmets – said at least 30 were wounded as the blast tore through the packed market, with some seriously injured transferred to local hospitals. The group, in a post on X, said its initial tally saw that three people – including two children – had died in the blast.

“Our teams recovered and treated several of the injured and inspected the area,” The White Helmets said. “The explosion also caused major damage to shops, civilian homes, cars, and motorcycles at the site.”

Yaseen Shalabi, who was near the site of the explosion and was shopping with his family confirmed to Reuters that the area was experiencing “heavy congestion by shoppers” at the time of the explosion.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Syria, which has been in a state of civil war since 2011, remains a divided country. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regained control of two-thirds of the country, with the help of his allies Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group. The northwest is still under the control of opposition forces.

Azaz, close to the Turkish border, is held by Syrian rebel groups backed by Turkey and opposed to al-Assad. It is home to the Syrian interim government, which claims to be the legitimate authority in the troubled country.

The predominantly Kurdish YPG, or People’s Protection Units, has previously launched attacks in the area. The group controls large swaths of areas in Syria’s north and northeast regions.

Turkey considers the armed group to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated “terrorist” group in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Azaz is a majority-Arab town with a significant Kurdish population. At least five people died when it was hit by a missile attack in November 2022. In 2017, more than 40 people were killed when a car bomb was detonated outside the town’s courthouse.

Source: News Agencies