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Clashes in Syrian town controlled by pro-Ankara forces kill one

November 18, 2019


BEIRUT (AFP) – A civilian was killed in clashes Sunday between protesters and police in Al-Bab, a town controlled by pro-Ankara forces in northern Syria, a war monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fatality occurred as people clamoured to reach a man arrested on suspicion of involvement in a deadly attack that took place the previous day.

A car bomb on Saturday killed 19 people, 13 of them civilians, when it struck a bus and taxi station in Al-Bab, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) northeast of Aleppo, the Observatory reported.

The attack also left 33 people wounded, some of them seriously.

“Local police arrested a suspect… after checking surveillance cameras at the site and took him to their headquarters with the intention of handing him over to the Turkish army,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

This sparked anger among residents, prompting hundreds to protest outside police headquarters to demand that the suspect be executed in Al-Bab, with some demonstrators attempting to force their way into the station.

Police fired into the air to try to disperse the crowd, killing one person and wounding another, the Observatory said.

An AFP photographer said some people threw stones at the headquarters, which is protected by concrete blocks, and that a military vehicle was ablaze nearby.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

But Turkey on Saturday blamed the attack on the Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG) against whom it launched an invasion further east last month.

The Observatory said there had been persistent security incidents in Al-Bab since its capture by Turkish troops from the Islamic State group in February 2017.

The town was one of the westernmost strongholds of the jihadists  self-styled “caliphate”, which was finally fully dismantled by US-backed Kurdish forces in eastern Syria in March.

Citing local sources, Abdel Rahman said the suspect was not linked to Kurdish forces, adding that he was from a village close to Al-Bab.

He said that the suspect had been a member of IS when it controlled the region and that he had later joined a pro-Ankara group.

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