IS car bomb kills 60 Syrian civilians in rebel-held al-Bab, over 100 injured

IS militants were recently declared driven out by Turkish-backed rebels from this region.

A rebel fighter stands with his weapon near a military vehicle on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab. Reuters

At least 60 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in an IS-claimed car bomb attack in a rebel-held village in Syria on Friday (Feb 24). According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, the blast has destroyed a rebel post in Sousian, about 8km from the northern Syrian town al-Bab, close to the Turkish border.

Al-Bab is just 40km away from a larger Syrian city Aleppo and about 400km from capital Damascus.

IS militants were recently driven out by Turkish-backed rebels group from this region which is trying to overthrow the Shia regime in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey is a country with a Sunni majority. Turkey says the rebels now have "control of all neighbourhoods" there.

"Activities continue to clear areas under control of obstacles, mines and hand-made explosives," the country's military said.

Meanwhile, Turkey Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said two Turkish soldiers have been killed in an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide attack in Syria's al-Bab. Yıldırım said the suicide attack targeted Turkish soldiers who were conducting road checks at the entrance of al-Bab. Two soldiers were killed in the attack while there were also wounded soldiers, he said.

Yıldırım also added that clean-up works in al-Bab were continuing with the utmost caution to prevent casualties due to the presence of hand-made explosives and bomb set-ups in the city.

IS claimed the car bomb attack, in a statement carried by its Amaq news outlet.

Many civilians were gathering to seek permission to return to al-Bab when the bomb exploded, the opposition-run Qasioun news agency said.

Situated just north-east of Aleppo, al-Bab has about 100,000 inhabitants in the centre and about 50,000 more living in the suburbs. It fell to Syrian rebels in spring 2012 and was in IS hands by early 2014, when it became home to many foreign jihadists and their families.

Gen Hulusi Akar, Turkey's chief of staff, told troops on Friday that with the seizure of al-Bab, Turkey's incursion into northern Syria had achieved its objective. "In the aftermath, support will be provided to normalise life and for the local people to quickly return to their homes," he said.

The rebels say they are now working to clear the heavily mined town.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last year that the capture of al-Bab, the jihadist group's last major stronghold in Aleppo province, would be the prelude to taking Raqqa, seen by IS as its capital in Syria.


Earlier this week, diplomatic tensions have intensified between Turkey and Iran as the two countries traded accusations over their roles in the Syria conflict and the Middle East.

Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran on Monday over comments made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Tayyip Erdogan, accusing the Islamic Republic of destabilising the region.

Turkey and Iran have been regional rivals for centuries, but have sought to forge a pragmatic relationship in recent years, with Iran strongly supporting President Erdogan after last year's failed coup. Shia majority Iran has been a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad along with Russia.