Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured the Ras al-Ayn area in October when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The ministry blamed the attack, the latest in a string of deadly car bomb attacks in the area, on Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. The fighters had however partnered with the U.S. against the Islamic State group. In a major shift in the power balance in oil-rich northeastern Syria, U.S. troops pulled back from the border with Turkey to avoid clashes with a NATO ally, opening the way for the Turkey-backed invasion.