ISTANBUL      -    A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town along the border with Turkey on Saturday killing 13 people, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said about 20 others were wounded when the bomb exploded in central Tal Abyad, which was captured last month by Turkey-backed opposition gunmen from Kurdish-led fighters.

The ministry blamed Syrian Kurdish fighters for the attack, saying it harshly condemns it and called on the international community to take a stance against this “cruel terror organization.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Turkey last month invaded northeastern Syria to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters, who it considers terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

Earlier on Saturday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Christian fighters will now oversee security in a northern Syrian region that has witnessed fighting between Turkey-backed troops and Kurdish-led militiamen.

The SDF said the deployment will take place in villages close to the town of Tal Tamr in the Khabur river region. That area is home to Syria’s dwindling ChrisAtian Syriac and Assyrian communities. Turkish-backed fighters have been advancing in northern Syria since last month, leading to the displacement of about 200,000 peopleA. There have been concerns in Christian villages about possible atrocities by Turkey-backed fighters, which include former jihadists.

The SDF said it’s deploying the Syrian Military Council and Assyrian fighters in the Khabur river region. Both groups are part of the SDF. The announcement came a day after Turkey and Russia launched joint patrols in northeastern Syria, under a deal that halted a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters who were forced to withdraw from the border area following Ankara’s incursion.

Though the truce has mostly held, it has been marred by accusations of violations from both sides and occasional clashes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to resume the offensive if deemed necessary.

But the US had partnered with the Syrian Kurdish fighters, their top allies in the war against the Islamic State group. The relationship has strained ties between Washington and Ankara who are NATO allies.

Turkish forces have created a 120-kilometre (75-mile) “safe zone” between Tal Abyad and the town of Ras al-Ain, pushing the YPG out of the area. Turkish troops on Friday began joint patrols with Russian forces.

US President Donald Trump faced widespread international criticism for his decision to remove American troops from the area, leaving Kurdish forces - which allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group, suffering heavy losses - outgunned by the Turkish military. Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in October in border towns in northern Syria, including Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, as Turkish forces pushed into the area.