Syrian Opposition Group Says It Was Target Of Blast Near Turkish Border

 @AmruthaGayathri on February 13 2013 8:21 AM
 Turkish-Syrian border blast
Damaged cars are seen after an explosion at Cilvegozu border gate near the town of Reyhanli on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province on Feb. 11, 2013 REUTERS

A Syrian opposition group alleged Tuesday that the mini-bus explosion on the Syria-Turkey border Monday that killed 10 Syrians and four Turkish nationals may have targeted the group’s delegation.

The explosion occurred near the Cilvegozu customs post on the Turkish side of the border in the southern province of Hatay. It is one of the main crossing points for the Syrian refugees to enter Turkey and lies opposite to the Syrian border post of Bab Al-Hawa that has seen violent clashes in recent months.

Turkish officials, however, said it was too early to identify the perpetrators of the blast.

Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler termed the explosion a “terrorist act,” “probably carried out by a Syrian.”

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan separately told lawmakers that the government "would wait for the investigation, then necessary steps will be taken."

George Sabra, president of the Syrian National Council (SNC), an opposition group largely operating from outside Syria, said from their “experience of the regime,” he knew that “its fingers are everywhere and yesterday they were in Bab Al-Hawa.”

"We entered Syria from Turkey through Bab Al-Hawa. Had we been there 30 minutes earlier we would have been the targets," Sabra was quoted as saying by Reuters at a news conference in Istanbul.

"After crossing the border we heard the explosion but we continued on our way," Sabra said, adding that he and the other SNC members were returning from a trip to northern Syria to assess the latest situation on the ground in the rebel-held areas.

Sabra, who replaced Abdelbaset Sayda as the group's leader in November 2012, is a Christian and a veteran leftist dissident, according to a report in the BBC.

An unnamed opposition activist who spoke to Reuters said the blast could have been carried out by one of the several factions within Syria's armed opposition coalition, including the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat Al Nusra, which has been instrumental in the storming and capturing several strategic government locations in the country.

The SNC, in a statement issued earlier, alleged that the Syrian regime was responsible for the bombing.

The group, largely made up of exiles, has been facing criticism from international supporters for being out of touch with the ground scenario in Syria and for its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The SNC stated its protest will adhere to the principles of overthrowing the regime using all legal means and safeguarding the non-violent character of the Syrian revolution. The group said it is committed to protecting national independence and sovereignty, and rejected foreign military intervention.

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