[UPDATE] 5 Syrian soldiers killed as regime army, Turkish military clash in northern Syria

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AFP PHOTOS

Syrian government forces and the Turkish military clashed on Tuesday for the first time since Ankara launched an offensive in northeastern Syria three weeks ago, AFP reported, citing a war monitor.

At least five Syrian regime fighters were killed as heavy clashes broke out on Tuesday between the army and Turkish forces for the first time since Ankara launched an incursion into northeastern Syria three weeks ago, a war monitor said, AFP reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said artillery and machine gun fire was exchanged near Assadiya, south of the border town of Ras al-Ain.

“Heavy fighting erupted for the first time between the Syrian and Turkish armies,” the Britain-based monitoring group said.

The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies launched an operation against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on Oct. 9 with the aim of creating a roughly 30-kilometer-deep (20-mile) buffer zone.

“Turkish artillery fire killed five regime forces in battles on the edge of the village of Assadiya,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Observatory, told AFP.

He added that the pro-Ankara fighters being used by Turkey as the main ground force for the invasion executed a government soldier they had captured.

Kurdish forces earlier this month agreed to withdraw from a 120-kilometer-long (75 mile), Arab-majority segment of the 440-kilometer (275 mile) border zone, although clashes have been reported since.

Turkey subsequently reached a deal with the Syrian government’s main backer Russia for Kurdish forces to pull back from the entire border area.

Left in the lurch by a US troop withdrawal from the border area, Kurdish forces turned to the government for protection. Damascus forces rushed north and are now expected to deploy along much of the border zone but a 10-kilometer-deep strip was to be jointly patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops, starting from Tuesday.

“Heavy fighting erupted for the first time between the Syrian and Turkish armies,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The Britain-based monitoring group said artillery and machinegun fire was exchanged near the village of Assadiya, south of the border town of Ras al-Ain.

At least six Syrian soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the Observatory said.

The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies attacked Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on Oct. 9 with the aim of creating a roughly 30-kilometer-deep (20 mile) buffer zone.

Kurdish forces agreed to withdraw from a 120-kilometer-long (75 mile), Arab-majority segment of the 440-kilometer (275 mile) border zone, although clashes have been reported since.

Turkey subsequently reached a deal with the Syrian government’s main backer, Russia, for Kurdish forces to pull back from the entire border area.

Left in the lurch by a US troop withdrawal from the border area, Kurdish forces turned to the government for protection.

Government forces are now expected to deploy along much of the border zone, but a 10-kilometer-deep strip is to be jointly patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops, starting from Tuesday.

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