The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the car bomb exploded on Thursday morning near a checkpoint, manned by Turkey-backed militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), at the entrance to the Kurdish-populated town of Afrin, where vehicles were gathering to be checked, presstv.ir reported.
The UK-based group added that 13 people were killed in the explosion, which shook Tirende residential area south of Afrin center. More than 30 people sustained injuries as well. The death toll is expected to further rise as some of the injured are in critical condition.
There were at least two children and four militants among those killed, the Observatory said.
“Among the victims, at least six are originally from Eastern Ghouta” – a former militant stronghold on the fringe of the Syrian capital, Damascus, which government forces managed to retake its control in April 2018.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but such assaults bear the hallmarks of those carried out by Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
The blast was the latest deadly explosion to rock Afrin. Three people were killed in January, when a bomb placed on a bus ripped through the town. A car bomb took the lives of nine people last December.
In January 2018, Ankara launched a cross-border military operation inside Syria, code-named Operation Olive Branch, with the declared aim of eliminating the Syrian Kurdish militants of the People's Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin.
The Turkish military and FSA militants entered the town center on March 18 that year.
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, are engaged in fierce clashes with foreign-backed Takfiri militants in the country’s northern province of Idlib to avenge troop casualties during a recent ambush by the extremists.
The Observatory said 41 government troops and 30 members of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group were killed late Wednesday, when the latter mounted a surprise attack to take control of Hamameyat village and a strategic hilltop nearby.
The head of the monitor, Rami Abdel Rahman, said fighting was underway as Syrian air forces jets and artillery units were pounding the area.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.