Fierce clashes erupt between Kurdish forces and Turkey-backed militia in Syria

Fierce clashes erupt between Kurdish forces and Turkey-backed militia in Syria
Deadly fighting between Kurdish and Turkey-backed Syrian forces broke out after the SDF allegedly launched a counter-attack instead of withdrawing from the border area on Saturday.
2 min read
03 November, 2019
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters patrol the northern Syrian border town of Tal Abyad [Getty]
Clashes broke out between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Turkey-backed militia the Syrian National Army (SNA) on Saturday night in Tal Tamr, northeastern Syria, amid the pull-back of the Kurds from the border area designated by Turkey.

The fighting erupted as Syrian regime forces consolidated their control over several formerly SDF-held locations in the surrounding area, under an agreement reached between the regime and SDF, who required protection following the dramatic withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

Regular scuffles have flared between the myriad Turkey-supported Syrian rebel groups, Kurdish, and regime fighters, including a suspected Kurdish bombing of a marketplace in Tal Abyad on Saturday, in which at least 20 people are confirmed killed.

Read more: What will be the future of the Syrian Democratic Forces?

Sources from the SNA told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that Saturday night’s clashes erupted after the SDF militia launched a counter-attack against its forces near Tal Tamr, in Hasakah province.

The clashes are thought to have led to fatal casualties on both sides, and pushed back the SNA from positions on which it had previously advanced.

The SNA sources claim the SDF launched its counter-attack backed by artillery shelling, accusing the Kurdish militia of violating the agreement reached between Turkey and Russia last week to ensure the withdrawal of the SDF from a 120-kilometre (75 mile) long, Arab-majority segment of the 440-kilometre (275-mile) border zone.

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Last month Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria, claiming it had to secure the area against Kurdish forces it deems “terrorist” groups.

Out-gunned and having lost US support, the Kurds have been forced to withdraw from the area, striking deals with the Syrian regime to hand over swathes of territory it won back from the Islamic State.

Turkey has backed a number of Syrian rebel groups to advance its operation on the ground, however many of these militias, including the SNA, have been accused of war crimes, including massacres of Kurdish civilians and female fighters.

Turkey-backed fighters killed six Syrian regime soldiers on Tuesday in the first direct conflict the two sides since Ankara launched the October offensive, including one kidnapped soldier who was later executed.

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