Six killed in clashes between SDF and Turkish-backed forces in northeast Syria

Six killed in clashes between SDF and Turkish-backed forces in northeast Syria
Six people have been killed in fighting between the SDF and Turkish-backed forces in Tal Tamr over the last two days.
2 min read
22 December, 2021
Clashes have erupted by the Kurdish-led SDF and Turkish backed fighters [Getty]

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clashed with Turkish-backed fighters in Tal Tamr in northeast Syria on Wednesday morning, with at least four civilians and two Syrian fighters killed.

Tal Tamr is a subdistrict in Al-Hasakeh province which is controlled by the SDF, but rubs up against territory controlled by Turkish backed-fighters.

The clashes were a continuation of fighting from the night prior, Aram Hanna, a spokesperson for the SDF, told The New Arab. He said that Turkish forces, alongside local militias, were involved in the fighting.

"Last night the western countryside of [Tal Tamr] was targeted, and this morning the northern parts, the villages of Tal Juma', Um Al-Keif and Tal Taweel were shelled," Hanna said, adding that ground clashes also began this morning in the same towns. There have been no SDF casualties, he said.

It was not immediately clear which Turkish-backed forces were taking part in the fighting, but the area is controlled by the Syrian National Army (SNA). The SNA is a Turkish-assembled force made up of former Syrian opposition elements.

In October 2019, the SNA, with Turkish army support, captured large swathes of territory in northeastern Syria - notably Ras Al-Ayn and Tal Abyad.

The military operation, dubbed Operation Peace Spring by Turkey, displaced more than 275,000 civilians.

Human rights groups accused the SNA of war crimes for their treatment of civilians, most notably the execution of the Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf allegedly at the hands of the Turkish-backed force.

Tal Tamr is subject to shelling by the SNA relatively frequently, despite an uneasy ceasefire existing between Turkey and the SDF.

Turkey views the SDF as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group that advocates for an independent Kurdish state and increased rights for Kurds in Turkey, among other places. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU, and US.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that he views the SDF presence on Turkey's southern border as an unacceptable security threat.