Syria’s predominantly Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) denied responsibility for a deadly vehicle bomb in the Turkish-occupied city of Efrin that killed at least 40 people, including children.
Turkey’s military said another 47 were injured in Monday’s bombing, which took place in the central market of Efrin as local residents were preparing to break the daily Ramadan fast.
The U.S. State Department also condemned the bombing, calling it an “act of terror.”
YPG-linked groups have been blamed for a number of vehicle bombs in Turkey-occupied regions of Syria.
The YPG said in a statement on Tuesday that “some of the parties that occupied Efrin rushed to hold the YPG responsible before checking this. These accusations are unfounded and we have no connection with what happened.”
Mazlum Abdi, Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG-led alliance of militias supported by the U.S.-led Coalition to defeat ISIS, also condemned the attack, but shifted blame to Turkey’s occupation of Efrin.
“What happened in Efrin yesterday, a condemned terrorist act, caused the loss of innocent lives,” Mazlum tweeted.
“This criminal act is the product of the policy of the destruction pursued by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries in the city of peace and olives [Afrin],” he wrote.
The U.S. has faced significant pressure from NATO ally Turkey to end its relationship with the SDF on Turkey’s southeastern border in Syria.
Eli kanlı terör örgütü PKK/YPG’nin, Afrin’de masum sivillere yönelik düzenlediği bombalı araç saldırısında hayatını kaybedenlerin sayısı 11’i çocuk olmak üzere 40’a, yaralıların sayısı ise 47’ye yükseldi. pic.twitter.com/AIVwHQ2IzT
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) April 28, 2020
Turkey says the YPG is Syria’s branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies for its four-decade long insurgency against the Turkish state.
The YPG is not considered a terrorist group by the U.S. or E.U., and the group insists it is not a part of the PKK.
The SDF has vowed to take back the historically Kurdish region of Efrin after Turkey’s military, alongside Syrian Arab opposition militias, invaded the region in 2018.
More than 100,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been displaced due to the incursion, according to the United Nations. The U.N. has has suggested Turkey-backed Syrian Arab fighters have committed war crimes in Afrin against the local population, including “robberies, harassment, abductions and murder.”
Turkey launched another incursion into another SDF-controlled border area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn in October 2019. The U.S. has told the SDF that Washington’s support is limited to their mutual fight against ISIS and not to disputes with Turkey.
There have been no recorded cross-border attacks into Turkey attributable the YPG.