A bomb-rigged fuel tanker killed 40 people Tuesday in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, with the Turkish government blaming Kurdish groups. The Turkish Defense Ministry tweeted that the attack occurred in the central part of the city, leaving 47 people wounded and 11 children among the dead

In January 2018, Turkey, along with its allied Arab groups, launched a military assault into northern Syria, known as Operation Olive Branch, to weed out Kurdish militants from the region, such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey considers the YPG to be an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with the PKK having been in an armed conflict with Turkey since 1984. Although the YPG and PKK share a similar ideology, they say they are separate entities.

Turkey took control of Afrin during Operation Olive Branch, an offensive in 2018 that lasted from January to March. The city is now controlled by Turkey-backed Arab groups, with the occupation criticized by human rights organizations.

“Turkey’s military offensive and occupation have exacerbated the suffering of Afrin residents, who have already endured years of bloody conflict. We heard appalling stories of people being detained, tortured or forcibly disappeared by Syrian armed groups, who continue to wreak havoc on civilians, unchecked by Turkish forces,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director said in August 2018.

Tuesday’s blast was one of the deadliest against Turkish-backed fighters in recent months.

Turkey opposes the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan in 2017 called Assad a "terrorist."