HATAY, Turkey

A potential terrorist attack was thwarted as authorities seized a vehicle rigged with explosives in northwestern Syria on Saturday.

A car found in Syria’s Afrin region was fitted with 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of explosives connected to mobile phones for remote detonation, according to a statement by the governor’s office of Turkey’s southern Hatay province.

Police in Afrin received intelligence reports that a bomb-laden vehicle prepared in the Tal Rifat region, under the control of the PYD/YPG/PKK terrorist organization, was sent to the Operation Olive Branch area in Afrin for an attack on security forces or civilians, said the statement.

Explosives were planted under the seats and in the trunk of the car, which was found abandoned in Afrin’s Mazra village, it added.

According to the statement, the explosives, which were linked to two mobile phones to be detonated remotely, were safely defused by security personnel.

Afrin has largely been cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists by Turkey, which has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria since 2016 to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

However, the group continues to attack from Syria’s Tal Rifat and Manbij regions, often targeting the Jarabulus, Azaz, and Afrin areas, according to local security sources.

It does not claim responsibility for the attacks as they end up harming civilians, the sources said.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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