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Syria denies involvement in Turkey twin blasts as death toll mounts

Published: Updated:

Turkey announced on Sunday that it has arrested nine people over the twin car bombings that killed at least 46 people in the Turkish town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border, as Damascus denied its involvement in the attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told a televised news conference Sunday that nine people have been held for questioning over the bombings, saying there have been confessions and that the suspects belong to “a terrorist organization in contact with Syrian intelligence,” as quoted by AFP.

Atalay also said that 38 of the 46 people killed in the blasts have been identified, of whom 35 were Turkish and three were Syrian.

Turkish officials say dozens more were injured in the explosions, reported AFP.

“We have identified those who organized it, those who carried out recognition (efforts), those who placed the vehicles,” Turkey's Interior Minister Muammer Guler said, as quoted by AFP.

Syria’s information minister rejected on Sunday Turkey’s allegations that his country was behind the attacks.

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told a news conference that “no one has the right to make false accusations.”

“Syria did not commit and would never commit such an act because our values would not allow that,” Zoubi said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday that he believed fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the twin bombings.

“The attack has nothing to do with the Syrian refugees in Turkey, it’s got everything to do with the Syrian regime,” Davutoglu said in an interview on Turkey’s TRT television, reported by Reuters.

Iran on Sunday condemned the attacks on Turkey. The Iranian state broadcaster’s website quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying that “confronting terrorism is the duty of all countries”.

“This act was a savage terrorist crime and such crimes which target ordinary people are condemned everywhere in the world,” Araqchi said.

Saturday bombings occurred in the town of Reyhanli in southern Turkey near Cilvegozu, one of the main Turkish hubs for Syrian refugees and rebels.

The border area has witnessed a number of deadly attacks as the conflict in Syria spills over into Turkey, whose government has become one of the harshest critics of the Damascus regime.

Turkish deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc labeled the bombings the deadliest attack in Turkey since the beginning of the conflict in Syria and suggested President Bashar al-Assad’s government may have had a hand in the killings.