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60 people killed, 50 injured in car bomb explosion in Syria

An explosive-laden vehicle blows up in the city Azaz in northwestern Syria near Turkish border
60 people killed, 50 injured in car bomb explosion in Syria

At least 60 people were killed and about 50 more injured Saturday by a car bomb attack in Aleppo’s opposition-held Azaz district in northwestern Syria, according to a pro-opposition Syrian civil defense official. An explosive-laden vehicle blew up in front of a local court in the center of Azaz, Anadolu news agency reports.

Late last month, Syrian opposition forces and the regime reached a cease-fire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia, to evacuate civilians from eastern Aleppo to safe areas in opposition-held Idlib.

According to Daily Sabah, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 43 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the blast. Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, said those killed included six opposition fighters. He said the explosion was caused by a rigged water or fuel tanker, which explains the large blast and high death toll.

Azaz, controlled by the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), is located some five kilometers south of the border with Turkey. Refugee camps around the town are home to hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians from various parts of the country since 2011. Amid a lack of cohesion in the international community, refugees in Azaz solely depend on humanitarian aid from Turkish government and NGO’s to provide their basic needs.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack, but Osama al-Merhi, a lawyer at the scene of the blast, pointed the finger at Islamic State.

Syria has been locked in a devastating war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.