At least four Syrian soldiers were killed after intense clashes broke out on Saturday between Syrian government troops and Turkish-led forces in northeast Syria. Turkey invaded northeast Syria last month to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters near the border. A cameraman for state-run Syrian TV was among those wounded in Saturday’s clashes.
The Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian group active in northeast Syria, said four Syrian army soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, including a general.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry made no mention of fighting with Syrian government troops in a statement Saturday.
The ministry did say it recorded eight cease-fire violations or attacks carried out by Syrian Kurdish fighters in the last 24 hours, despite separate truce agreements that Turkey has reached with Russia and the United States.
Earlier, Turkey’s foreign minister has said that his country’s military will attack any Syrian Kurdish fighter that remains along the border area in northeast Syria after a deadline for them to leave expires. Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters on Monday that Russian and Syrian officials provided information that some Kurdish fighters had pulled out of the border area, but others still had not. The Kurdish withdrawal is in line with a Russian-Turkish agreement reached last week.
Turkey has agreed to "pause" its military action in Syria launched on October 9 on the condition that Kurdish forces withdrew from an initial 120-kilometre area from the border, following a deal with US Vice President Mike Pense last Thursday. Turkey has, however, repeatedly threatened to restart its offensive, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing to "crush the heads" of Syrian Kurdish forces if they failed to retreat.
Ankara says the YPG is a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984.
The Turkish military, together with its proxies in Syria, launched an operation on October 9 to clear YPG forces from areas near its border and create a safe zone to repatriate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.