Thursday, 25 February 2021

Syrian army, Turkish forces clash near border

Turkish tanks and troops stationed near Syrian town of Manbij, Syria, October 15, 2019. (Ugur Can/DHA via AP)

ANKARA/AMMAN: Syrian army troops clashed with Turkish forces near the border town of Ras al Ain on Wednesday, Syrian state media reported, as Ankara said it reserved the right to launch another cross-border offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia.

The state media gave no details but Turkish-backed rebels said similar, intermittent clashes had occurred in recent days with Syrian troops south of the town, which Turkey seized from Syrian Kurdish-led forces earlier this month.

The report underscores the risk that violence in northeast Syria could rekindle after Ankara and Moscow struck a deal a week ago in which Russia agreed to shift the YPG at least 30 km (18.64 miles) south of the border by late on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, Syrian troops have with the agreement of Kurdish forces headed north to take up positions near the border, a region Damascus has not controlled since early on in the country’s eight-and-a-half-year-old war.

In Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan told lawmakers from his AK Party that Turkey has information the YPG has not completed its pull-out, despite assurances from Russia on Tuesday that they had left ahead of the deal’s deadline.

“Even though the information in our hands suggests this has not been succeeded in a full sense, we will give our response to them after our field assessments,” he said, adding Turkey reserved the right to return to military operations against the YPG in the area.

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