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Armed fight erupts among Turkish-backed factions in northern Syria

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Clashes erupted between Turkish-backed rebel factions operating in the previously Kurdish-held northern Syrian town of Tal Tamr, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday.

According to the report gunmen from Sultan Murad and another armed group of the Al-Hamzat Division exchanged fire in fierce clashes with light and medium weapons near villages in the western countryside of Tal Tamr. The areas are under the control of the “Peace Spring” mission carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces in late 2019.

Casualties have been reported on both sides. The reasons behind the clash have yet to be known, says the SOHR report.

SOHR sources reported on August 11 that villages in the “Peace Spring” areas of the al-Hasakeh countryside experienced infighting among Turkish-backed factions following a dispute over the sharing of spoils they looted from civilian houses in the areas of Ras al-Ain and Tal Tamer.

According to Observatory sources, clashes erupted in the villages of Shallah, Thyabiya and Rayhania between members of Sultan Murad and Ahrar al-Sharqqiya, as Sultan Murad sold Ahrar al-Sharqiya’s share of the booty.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to clear the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by Kurdish militant group the People’s Protection Units (YPG), from its border in October 2019.

Ankara maintains that the YPG is indistinguishable from Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and was angered by US support for the group during the five-year-long campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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