A massive car bomb Saturday killed 46 people in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, near the country’s border with Syria. Turkish officials blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for the attack:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday that he believed fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad were behind twin car bombings that killed more than 40 people in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli on Saturday. Interior Minister Muammer Guler, who was also speaking on Turkish television, said the attacks on Saturday were carried out by a group known to the Turkish authorities and with direct links to Syria’s Mukhabarat intelligence agency.
Meanwhile Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Ankara had detained nine Turkish citizens in connection with the bombing, which he indicated was conducted by the same elements that attacked the Syrian coastal town of Banias a week ago. At least 62 people died in the latter blast.
Attacks by Syrian armed forces at or across the border have been occuring with increased regularity. At the end of April a Syrian air strike on the headquarters of a hard line Islamist opposition group killed at least 5. The attacks targeted infrastructure belonging to the Ahrar al-Sham.
Ankara has already established that it is willing to risk widening the conflict to respond to Syrian attacks. In January Turkish forces targeted Syria with artillery in response to Syrian shelling of Turkish territory.
Turkey has permitted opposition forces, including the relatively moderate opposition Free Syrian Army, to use Turkish territory. Assad has responded by telling Ankara it was “playing with fire” by helping rebel groups.
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