July 11, 2019 / 8:37 AM / 7 days ago

Blast kills 11, wounds many in Syria's rebel-held Afrin

A fire fighter sprays water at the site of a car bomb blast in front of a church in Qamishli, Syria July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Rodi Said

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A car bomb killed 11 people and wounded many others on Thursday in the Syrian city of Afrin, which Turkey-backed rebels captured from Kurdish fighters last year, medical sources and a monitor said.

The blast struck an entrance to the city, killing civilians including children, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group said.

The Observatory and the medical sources said many other people had been injured in the explosion, some very badly.

Afrin lies north of Aleppo near the border with Turkey. It was held by the Kurdish YPG militia until last year when rebels seized it and the countryside around it in a Turkey-backed offensive.

Later in the afternoon, a car bomb exploded in front of a church in the northeast city of Qamishli, which the YPG controls, injuring 8 people, local security forces said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Qamishli blast.

While major fighting has died down for now, there is still much insecurity in many parts of Syria, with bombings and other attacks targeting civilians in areas controlled by all sides in the conflict.

In June, a car bomb in Azaz, a town near Afrin also controlled by Turkey-backed rebels, killed at least 10 people when it struck in a busy marketplace on a Ramadan night.

Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Peter Graff and James Dalgleish

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