A car with Syrian plates exploded on the Turkish side of a border crossing on Monday, killing at least five Syrians and five Turkish citizens, according to Hurriyet Daily News.”We don’t know whether this was a suicide bomb or whether a car that was smuggling petrol across the border blew up,” one Turkish official told Reuters.
Part of the roof collapsed on the gate that was blown open, which lies across for the rebel held Syrian gate of Bab al-Hawa in the southern Turkish province of Hatay.
John Williams of BBC News notes that most journalists use the crossings to get to Syria’s north.
The car was parked at a crowded lot filled with trucks ready to enter Syria with humanitarian supplies, a Turkish foreign ministry official told Agence France-Presse.
Turkish politician Hasan Akgöl told NTV that the blast “is an attempt of provocation” since it is an area in which “rebel forces are strong and the Syrian army members cannot get near.”
The event is the first major spillover of the Syrian civil war since mortar shells from Syria killed five Turkish civilians in October.
Aaron Stein of the centre for Economics and Foreign Policy, Istanbul-based thinktank, writes that the blast “will force [Turlish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to address the mounting violence in Syria, which will in turn draw fire from critics for his failure to implement a workable Syria policy.” He adds that “escalation remains unlikely at this time.”
Turkey has been the primary hub for opposition forces outside of Syria and the former Assad ally has taken in close to 200,000 of refugees from the 23-month conflict.
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