Syrian city explosion held by Turkey-backed gunmen kills 13

ISTANBUL (AP) - A car bomb exploded on Saturday in a city in northern Syria along the border with Turkey, killing 13 people, said the Turkish Ministry of Defense. The ministry said another 20 were injured when the bomb exploded in the center of Tal Abyad, which was captured last month by Turkish-backed opposition gunmen of Kurd-led fighters. The ministry blamed Syrian Kurdish fighters for the attack, saying it severely condemns it and asked the international community to take a stand against this cruel terrorist organization. There was no immediate attribution of responsibility. Last month, Turkey invaded northeastern Syria to expel Syrian Kurdish fighters, whom it considers terrorists because of their ties to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. Earlier on Saturday, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Christian fighters will now monitor security in a region of northern Syria that has witnessed fighting between Turkish-backed troops and Kurdish-led militiamen. The SDF said the deployment will take place in villages near the city of Tal Tamr in the Khabur River region. That area is home to the dwindling Syrian and Syrian Christian communities in Syria. Turkey-backed fighters have been advancing in northern Syria since last month, which has caused the displacement of some 200,000 people. There have been concerns in Christian villages about possible atrocities committed by fighters backed by Turkey, which include former jihadists. The SDF said it is deploying the Syrian Military Council and Assyrian fighters in the Khabur River region. Both groups are part of the SDF. The announcement came a day after Turkey and Russia launched joint patrols in northeastern Syria, under an agreement that halted a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters who were forced to withdraw from the border area following the incursion of Ankara Although the truce has been maintained mainly, it has been marred by accusations of violations on both sides and occasional clashes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to resume the offensive if he considers it necessary. But the United States partnered with Syrian Kurdish fighters, its main allies in the war against the Islamic State group. The relationship has strained ties between Washington and Ankara, which are NATO allies. After an abrupt and widely criticized decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from this part of Syria, Kurdish forces approached the Syrian government and Russia for protection. The troops of the Syrian government and the Russian military police subsequently moved to areas along the border. Christians constituted about 10 percent of the Syrian population of 23 million before the war, who coexisted with the Muslim majority and enjoyed freedom of worship under the government of President Bashar Assad. Most have gone to Europe in the last 20 years, with their flight significantly increasing speed since the beginning of the current conflict. ____ Mroue reported from Beirut. This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)