One of the main crossing points for Syrian refugees entering Turkey was hit by a powerful explosion from a minibus on Monday. The vehicle blew itself up at on the Turkish side of the border at the Cilvegozu custom post in the Hatay province. According to the deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Bulent Arinc the blast struck in an area where dozens of civilians and humanitarian workers had gathered, killing at least 10 Syrians and 3 Turkish nationals.
“It was a powerful explosion. But whether this was a vehicle laden with explosives or another type of explosion, I think, at the latest, will become clear tomorrow,” he said. “All possibilities are on the table, including political motives.”
The Turkish Cilvegozu customs posts is located across the border from the Syrian Bab al Hawa border post. Bab al Hawa was captured by rebels from government forces in July last year, and renewed clashes have been reported in the area recently.
The Interior, Customs and Justice Ministers of Turkey have announced that they will all fly to the area of the attack to be briefed on the incident.
Elsewhere in Syria
Heavy fighting continues in the capital Damascus, where government forces are pushing back against a renewed rebel offensive. Meanwhile a number of opposition linked groups have claimed that rebel fighters have taken control of the Taqba dam – the largest hydroelectric dam in Syria. If correct then this would be a significant symbolic victory for rebels. The Taqba dam was a prestige project created by President Bashar al Assad’s father, and supplies power to the contested city of Aleppo.
Experts suggest, however, that it is unlikely to make a large material difference. Electricity supply to Aleppo has been patchy at best, the Taqba dam had already fallen short of initial hopes for its capacity before the start of the conflict, and may not be running at full capacity now.