Car bomb ripped through a busy commercial district in a rebel-held Syrian town along the Turkish border Saturday, killing nearly 50 in a huge explosion that damaged buildings and left rescuers.
Rescuers and doctors said the explosion was so large there were nearly 100 wounded and burned. Over 50 wounded were transported to the Turkish border town of Kilis for treatment, as local hospitals couldn't cope.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 48 people, mostly civilians, were killed when the tanker blew up in front of a courthouse in the northern town of Azaz. Around 14 of the dead were rebel fighters or courthouse guards, it said. Dozens more were injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Locals said a rigged tanker caused the explosion and blamed Islamic State militants, who have carried out attacks in the town before. The militant group has been increasingly pressed in Syria and Iraq, and has escalated its attacks against Turkey — which backs Syrian opposition fighters in a campaign against the group in northern Syria.
The bomb went off early Saturday afternoon outside a local courthouse and security headquarters operated by the opposition fighters who control the town, resident and activist Saif Alnajdi told The Associated Press from Azaz.
Syria’s nearly six-year war has create a patchwork of areas of control across the country.Azaz is a stronghold of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), an alliance of moderate rebel groups whose fighters have, with Turkish military support, pushed Islamic State militants out of the border area.