ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A car bomb went off in a Turkish-controlled area of northeastern Syria on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people, Turkey's Defense Ministry said.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the ministry said more than 20 others were wounded in the explosion in the village of Tal Half, near the city of Ras al-Ayn.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured the Ras al-Ayn area in October when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The ministry blamed the attack, the latest in a string of deadly car bomb attacks in the area, on Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. The fighters had however partnered with the U.S. against the Islamic State group.

In a major shift in the power balance in oil-rich northeastern Syria, U.S. troops pulled back from the border with Turkey to avoid clashes with a NATO ally, opening the way for the Turkey-backed invasion.