Deaths in Syria clashes between pro-Turkish fighters and Kurds

Deaths in Syria clashes between pro-Turkish fighters and Kurds
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 15 have been killed in clashes in northeastern Syria.
2 min read
27 October, 2019
Turkish forces captured Ras al-Ain [Getty]

Clashes in northeast Syria between pro-Ankara fighters backed by the Turkish air force and a Damascus-backed force led by Syrian Kurds left 15 dead on Saturday, a monitor said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP that nine pro-Turkish fighters and six members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed in a zone between the towns of Tal Tamr and Ras al-Ain.

State news agency SANA said earlier regime forces had entered the provincial borders of Ras al-Ain near Turkey's border on Saturday, an area that was taken by Turkish forces in the latter's weeks-long offensive against Syria's Kurds.

Read also: Turkey will 'clean' Syria-Turkey border if Kurdish forces miss deadline, Erdogan warns

The Observatory said the Syrian regime’s deployment there was its largest in years.

Syrian regime forces, led by dictator Bashar al-Assad, had also deployed along a road stretching some 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the frontier, SANA said. 

Turkey and its Syrian proxies on October 9 launched a cross-border attack against Kurdish-held areas, grabbing a 120-kilometre-long (70-mile) swathe of Syrian land along the frontier.

The incursion left hundreds dead and caused 300,000 people to flee their homes, in the latest humanitarian crisis in Syria's brutal eight-year war.

Turkey and Russia this week struck a deal in Sochi for more Kurdish forces to withdraw from the frontier on both sides of that Turkish-held area under the supervision of Russian and Syrian regime forces.

On Saturday, the Britain-based Observatory said some 2,000 regime forces and hundreds of military vehicles were deploying around what Turkey calls its "safe zone". 

Regime forces were being accompanied by Russian military police, the Observatory said. 

Moscow has said 300 Russian military police had arrived in Syria to help ensure Kurdish forces withdraw to a line 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the border in keeping with Tuesday's agreement.

Under the Sochi deal, Kurdish forces have until late Tuesday to withdraw from border areas at either end of the Turkish-held area, before joint Turkish-Russian patrols start in a 10-kilometre (six-mile) strip there.

Ankara eventually wants to set up a buffer zone on Syrian soil along the entire length of its 440-kilometre-long border, including to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

The SDF has objected to some provisions of the Sochi agreement and it has so far maintained several border posts.