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Exploding vehicle kills 13 on Syria-Turkey border

A car has exploded at a border crossing between Syria and Turkey. Elsewhere, rebels said they captured Syria’s largest dam, which would give them control over hydroelectricity supplies in a northern area.

Thirteen people were killed in the explosion, four of them Turkish, and more than 40 were wounded and taken to hospitals Monday. Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confirmed the death toll.

Witnesses said the blast, which took place on the Syrian side of the border, struck a spot where humanitarian aid is loaded onto vehicles. The car had Syrian license plates.

The border area has been the scene of fierce fighting in Syria's civil war. Turkey supports the uprising against President Bashar Assad and has harbored Syrian refugees and rebels.

"[Monday's] incident is very important in showing to what extent our stance on terror and our sensibility toward Syrian incidents is well-directed," Erdogan said.

A mortar shell launched in Syria killed five Turks in October when it hit a house in the border town of Akcakale. Turkey responded in kind to gunfire and further mortar rounds hitting its territory along the 910-kilometer (565-mile) border. The NATO member also requested and secured the deploment of six NATO-run Patriot missile batteries meant to defend it against attacks from Syria.

In recent weeks, NATO has announced that short-range ballistic missiles launched inside Syria have landed close to the border. Turkey has scrambled warplanes along the frontier, fanning fears the war could spread and further destabilize the region.

Rebels report progress

Rebel fighters on Monday said they had taken control of Syria's largest hydroelectricity generator, the Taqba dam, in northeastern Raqqa province. They had already claimed control of two other, smaller dams on the Euphrates River. The Taqba dam, sometimes called al-Furat among other names, controls some water and electricity supplies for both government- and rebel-controlled areas. The government did not comment on its reported loss of control.

Earlier this month, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that rebels had seized another smaller dam in Raqqa province, Baath, named after the ruling party. In November, opposition fighters captured the Tishrin hydroelectric dam near the town of Manbij in northern Aleppo province, which borders Raqqa. The rebels have had their biggest success in Syria's north, including Idlib, Raqqa and Aleppo provinces - all of which border Turkey.

A UN-sponsored study estimates that more than 60,000 people have died in almost two years of fighting in Syria.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)