A suicide bomber attacked Turkish-backed rebels just outside the Syrian town of Al-Bab Friday, killing 42 people in a major blow just hours after they hailed its capture from the Islamic State group.
The bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives outside a rebel command centre in the village of Susian, eight kilometres (five miles) northeast of Al-Bab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The blast devastated the twin command posts and also seriously wounded a large number of fighters, the Britain-based monitoring group said. Most of the dead were fighters.
There was no immediate claim for the attack but it bore all the hallmarks of IS, which had put up fierce resistance in Al-Bab for weeks.
The strategic town, just 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the Turkish border, was the jihadists` last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.
Turkey sent troops into Syria last August in an operation it said targeted not only IS but also US-backed Kurdish fighters whom it regards as terrorists.
With its support, the rebels launched an offensive to take Al-Bab last year.
It has proved the bloodiest battle of Ankara’s campaign accounting for most of the 69 Turkish losses so far.
Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said on Thursday that its rebel allies now had “near complete control” of the town.