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20 killed in blast in Syrian town near Turkey

ALEPPO, SYRIA - DECEMBER 21: A general view of a tent city as it snows in the Azaz town of Aleppo, Syria on December 21, 2016. ( Mamun Ebu Omer - Anadolu Agency )

A large explosion in the busy centre of an opposition-held town near Syria's border with Turkey killed around 20 people and wounded dozens today, a monitor, local residents and opposition groups said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor, said at least 19 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the blast in front of a courthouse in the northern Syrian town of Azaz.

Dozens more had severe injuries, said the Observatory, which monitors the violence in the country.

A resident and the opposition-affiliated Aleppo Media Centre said the death toll was around 20 and the explosion was thought to have been caused by a car bomb.

Syria's nearly six-year war has created a patchwork of areas of control across the country.

Azaz is a major stronghold of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), an alliance of moderate opposition groups whose fighters have, with Turkish military support, largely pushed Daesh militants out of the border area near Turkey.

The explosion occurred near a government building in the town and was heard across the border in the Turkish town of Kilis, Turkey's privately-owned Dogan news agency.

It said preparations were being made to receive casualties in Kilis hospital.

In unsourced comments, it said a car bomb planted by Daesh extremists was responsible.

In a round-up of its military operations over the last 24 hours in support of opposition fighters in northern Syria, the Turkish military said today that 21 Daesh militants had been killed in clashes.

Turkish warplanes destroyed buildings and vehicles in airstrikes on 12 Daesh targets, it said.

Four months ago, Turkey launched a military intervention in northern Syria dubbed, "Euphrates Shield", that sought to clear both Daesh and Kurdish leftist YPG militants from Turkey's southern borders. Ankara is now supporting an FSA offensive against the town of Al-Bab, northwest of Aleppo.

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Europe & RussiaInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSOHRSyriaTurkey
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