Syria says Turk­ish forces at­tacked its troops

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - BASSEM MROUE

BEIRUT — Turk­ish forces and their al­lies at­tacked Syr­ian gov­ern­ment troops in north­east­ern Syria on Thurs­day, killing some of them, and they also clashed with Kur­dish-led fight­ers, the state news agency in Da­m­as­cus and a war mon­i­tor­ing group said.

The fight­ing un­der­scored the risks of vi­o­lence as mul­ti­ple and of­ten op­pos­ing armed forces jos­tle for new po­si­tions in the tight quar­ters of the north­east­ern bor­der zone.

Most wor­ri­some has been the prospect of a col­li­sion be­tween forces of the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment’ and those backed by Turkey, which in­clude Syr­ian rebel fight­ers and Is­lamic ex­trem­ists op­posed to Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad.

All sides have said they are abid­ing by a ceasefire as they im­ple­ment a Rus­sian-Turk­ish agree­ment that di­vides up the bor­der re­gion. But fric­tions could un­der­mine the ef­fort for a res­o­lu­tion on the bor­der, which U.S. forces were abruptly or­dered to leave ear­lier this month, al­low­ing Turkey to launch its in­va­sion against Kur­dish fight­ers.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said Turk­ish troops and its al­lied fight­ers at­tacked Syr­ian army po­si­tions out­side the town of Tal Tamr. The Syr­ian troops fought back and suf­fered “mar­tyrs and wounded,” it re­ported with­out elab­o­rat­ing. Sep­a­rately, the Kur­dish-led Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces said three of its fight­ers were killed in fight­ing with Turk­ish-backed forces.

Syr­ian forces, Rus­sian mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers and mil­i­tary po­lice are be­ing de­ployed in a zone 30 kilo­me­tres (19 miles) deep along much of the north­east­ern bor­der, un­der an agree­ment reached Tues­day by Rus­sia and Turkey. They are to en­sure that Kur­dish fight­ers leave that area. Then Rus­sia and Turkey are to be­gin joint pa­trols along a nar­rower strip di­rectly on the Turk­ish-Syr­ian bor­der.

Turkey is to keep sole con­trol of a large sec­tion in the cen­tre of the bor­der, most of which it cap­tured in its in­va­sion launched Oct. 9. Turkey wanted to drive the U.S.-al­lied Kur­dish forces out of a “safe zone” along the bor­der.

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