BEIRUT – A massive car bomb ripped through a crowded garage Thursday near a rebel-held border crossing between Syria and Turkey, killing at least 43 people in an area that has seen fierce fighting between rival rebel groups, an anti-government activist group said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast killed 43 people and wounded more than 80. Injured Syrians taken to hospitals in Turkey and later died are among the 43 killed, said Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Observatory. The group relies on a network of activists on the ground.
Car bombings have become common in Syria as the influence of Islamic extremist groups has risen, dampening the support of the U.S. and its European allied for the opposition seeking to oust Assad. Opposition activists have blamed al-Qaida-linked fighters, who are engaged in deadly fighting between rival rebel factions in Syria, although no group claimed responsibility for Thursday's blast.
The attack came as President Bashar Assad's forces have seized the momentum of the country's 3-year-old civil war ahead of presidential elections scheduled for June 3.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Syria’s election planned for next month a “farce” because it excludes Syrians who have been displaced by fighting.
Attending a "Friends of Syria" meeting of 11 Western and Arab countries in London Thursday,
Kerry said the U.S. and its partners are prepared to quickly redouble efforts to support opposition forces in the county, but stopped short of promising U.S. military aid that the opposition has repeatedly requested.
-- The Associated Press