BEIRUT — A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a Syrian security compound in a remote, predominantly Kurdish town Sunday, killing at least four people, state media said, in a new sign that the country's largest ethnic minority might be drawn into a widening civil war.

Opposition activists said at least eight Syrian intelligence agents were killed and several dozen people wounded in the attack in the northeastern town of Qamishli, more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the capital Damascus.

Syria's more than 2 million Kurds, long marginalized, have largely stayed out of the fighting, though some have participated in protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The uprising against Assad that erupted 18 months ago has gradually morphed into a bloody civil war. The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people, activists say, and has devastated entire neighborhoods in Syria's main cities, including Aleppo, the scene of intense fighting Sunday.

The leaders of Turkey and Egypt, among Assad's main foreign foes, sent stern warnings to the regime and its allies, in speeches to Turkey's ruling party.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said that "we will be on the side of the Syrian people until the bloodshed ends, the cruel regime is gone and Syrian people reach their just rights."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Syria's allies Russia, China and Iran to end their support for Assad, warning that "history will not forgive those who stand together with cruel regimes."

Turkey has given shelter to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and Turkish soil has served as a crucial logistical center for rebel fighters since they captured several Syrian border crossings with Turkey over the summer.

Also over the summer, Syrian troops left several towns and villages in the Kurdish northeast, possibly to divert forces to overstretched troops fighting in hotspots elsewhere. The regime ceded de facto control to Kurdish fighters who began exercising a degree of autonomy unheard of before.

However, the regime has maintained a security presence in Qamishli, which abuts the Turkish border, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday's blast. Several previous suicide attacks in Syria were claimed by a Syrian militant group, the Al-Nusra Front.

Syrian state media said the explosion went off in an area housing security officers. It said four people were killed, dozens wounded and nearby buildings damaged. An amateur video posted online by activists showed a column of white smoke rising between buildings in Qamishli.

The Observatory said eight Syrian intelligence agents were killed and at least 40 people wounded in the explosion.

Most Kurds live in the northeast, but Aleppo and Damascus also have Kurdish-dominated neighborhoods.

Last week, a Kurdish district in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, was for the first time drawn into fighting between rebels and regime forces, amid conflicting reports about whether Kurdish gunmen fought alongside the regime or remained on the sidelines.

Fighting continued Sunday in several areas of Aleppo, as part of what rebels say is new push to drive out regime forces. Opposition fighters seized several areas in an initial offensive two months ago, but were unable to keep up the momentum. On Thursday, they announced what they said would be a decisive battle.

Either side could potentially shift the direction of an otherwise stalemated war if it seizes Aleppo, a city of 3 million people.

Abdel Kader, a commander of the Tawhid Brigade, the largest rebel unit in Aleppo, said by phone from Aleppo that his men were fighting in seven areas Sunday. Pro-Assad troops have been shelling rebel-held districts. Amateur video posted by activists Sunday showed Syrian warplanes flying over the city and heavy smoke rising from the city's skyline.

Another video showed night fighting. "We want to liberate the city from these shabiha," a man says in the background, referring to Syria's pro-Assad militiamen.

In the video, what appears to be a rebel fighter firing projectiles from the cover of a hillside to the shouts of "God is Great" from others nearby.

Syria imposes tight restrictions on foreign reporters and the authenticity of the videos could not be verified independently.

Before the civil war, Aleppo was Syria's business center.

Its walled old city with a medieval covered market, or souk, was recognized by the U.N. cultural agency as a World Heritage site, one of six in Syria. Late Friday, the fighting sparked a huge fire in the market that continued to burn Saturday, destroying hundreds of shops.

It was the worst blow yet to the city's historic center. The market with its vaulted passageways lined by stalls selling spices, perfumes and fabrics had been touted as one of the best-preserved old souks in the Middle East.

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Associated Press writers Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed reporting.

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  • Syrian Regime

    Despite major defections and a July 18. explosion in Damascus that killed four top generals, including President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law, the regime's inner circle is still powerful and united against the opposition. Assad's inner circle includes his younger brother, Maher, who commands the forces in charge of protecting the capital. It also includes the heads of the four intelligence agencies playing a major role in the crackdown. Although regime forces lost parts of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, government troops still control most cities, while the opposition dominates large parts of the countryside. <em>Caption: This June 13, 2000, file photo shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, his brother Maher, center, and brother-in-law Major General Assef Shawkat, left. (AP Photo, File)</em>

  • Free Syrian Army

    The main rebel fighting force for more than a year, the Free Syrian Army includes lightly-armed volunteer militiamen and defectors from Assad's military. Its overall strength and structure is unclear, but tens of thousands are believed be loyal to the group. The rebels have control over some northern areas, allowing movement of fighters and supplies from Turkey and Lebanon. Anti-Assad forces have failed to maintain any strategic footholds in big cities, being driven back from key neighborhoods in Homs earlier this year and now apparently losing ground in the largest urban center, Aleppo. The battles also suggest only weak direction from central commanders - including Turkey-based Free Syrian Army leader Riad al-Asaad. <em>Caption: In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, Free Syrian Army soldiers pose for a photograph, in Sarmada, Idlib province, northern Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)</em>

  • Syrian National Council

    Based in Istanbul, the SNC has emerged as the main political opposition to Assad and has pushed for international recognition as the legitimate representative of the uprising, despite rifts with other Syrian factions. The group also has been hit by internal feuds that have led some senior members to quit. The current leader, Abdelbaset Sieda, is a Swedish-based activist for Syria's minority Kurdish community. The SNC has gained support from many countries in the West and Arab world, but it has not galvanized international backing, and critics complain its senior leadership is made up mostly of exiles out of touch with their homeland. <em>Caption: The members of the Syrian National Council and its head Abdulbaset Sieda, center, arrive for a meeting with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 23, 2012.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)</em>

  • The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change

    A rival to the SNC, the National Coordination Committee is led by opposition figures inside Syria, many of them former political prisoners. SNC members accuse the group of being far too lenient and willing to engage in dialogue with the regime. In turn, the National Coordination Committee accuses the SNC of being a front for Western powers and willing to open the door to the Muslim Brotherhood and other conservative Islamist factions. <em>Caption: Member of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, Morhaf Mickael speaks during a meeting of Syrian opposition parties in Brussels on Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)</em>

  • International Alliances

    On Assad's side are traditional Shiite allies Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah. <em>Caption: In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/SANA)</em>

  • International Alliances

    The regime also has important political cover from Russia and China, which have used their Security Council vetoes to prevent U.N. sanctions on Syria. <em>Caption: In this Jan. 25, 2005 file photo, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin, Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Chirikov)</em>

  • International Alliances

    The rebels have built an array of regional support that includes the wealthy Gulf states - led by Iran rival Saudi Arabia - and neighboring Turkey, which offers key supply routes. The West also backs the rebel forces, but has so far opposed mobilizing international military support similar to the NATO-led airstrikes that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya. <em>Caption: From left, Bahrain's Foreign Minister, Sheik Khalid bin AhmedI bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan seenduring a group photo during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Foreign ministers meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 (AP Photo)</em>

  • Foreign Fighters

    Syria has drawn foreign fighters just as other recent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. No credible count on them exists, but anecdotal evidence suggests foreigners are coming to fight Assad. Rebel commanders downplay the presence of foreign fighters, saying their cause is a purely Syrian uprising. Mohammed Idilbi, a Syrian activist based in Turkey, says foreign ranks include Libyans, Yemenis, Tunisians and Lebanese. On Saturday, Syria's official SANA news agency claimed four Libyans were among rebels killed in Aleppo. <em>Caption: In this Sept. 18, 2011 file photo, former rebel fighters celebrate as smoke rises from Bani Walid, Libya, at the northern gate of the town. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini, File)</em>

  • Extremists

    U.S. officials and others worry that Syria could become a new foothold for insurgents inspired by al-Qaida. Assessing the degree of radical Islamic ideology in the civil war is impossible, but at least one group, the al-Nusra Front, has emerged and declared allegiance to the Free Syrian Army. Al-Nusra, or Victory, has claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks, including a double suicide bombing in March that killed 27 people in Damascus and the execution-style killing of a Syrian television presenter who was abducted in July. On Friday, U.S. intelligence officials said al-Qaida has advanced beyond isolated pockets in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells that could include several hundred militants. <em>Caption: This photo shows Al-Qaida's new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a still image from a web posting by al-Qaida's media arm, as-Sahab, Wednesday July 27, 2011. Al-Qaida's new leader has lauded protesters in Syria for seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad. (AP Photo/IntelCenter) </em>