DAMASCUS – Turkish forces and their allied militants attacked Syrian government troops in the northeastern part of the country on Thursday, and also clashed with Kurdish militias, as both Ankara and Kurds have claimed they will abide by a cease-fire following a Russian-Turkish agreement on Tuesday.
Syrian government forces confronted on Thursday an attack by Ankara-backed militants on Kowzaliyah and Tel Laban in Tel Tamar region in the northwestern countryside of Hasaka, inflicting heavy losses on the invaders.
Militants supported by Ankara attempted to expand their presence in the Ras Al-Ain area, despite the ongoing agreement that was established by the Turkish and Russian Presidents on Tuesday. At the Tal Tamar front, AMN reported, both the Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters took on the Ankara-backed militants who were attempting to advance into the district from southeast Ras Al-Ain.
Later, the state-run news agency SANA reported that Turkey-supported militants continued their aggression on Syrian territories and occupied al-Manajir village in Tel Tamar region after shelling the area with artillery and heavy weapons – a clear violation of the new Sochi agreement that was established by the Russian and Turkish governments.
Heavy clashes also take place at the towns of Al-Asadiyah and Jafah following the Kurdish militias’ refusal to withdraw from the area in favor of the Turkish military, but no advances have been made by Ankara and its forces.
A military source stated that the Syrian Army has sent reinforcements to the area to prevent any attempts by the Turkish-backed militants in the future. Later, the Damascus government deployed its tank units from Hasaka city to the Tal Tamar District to confront Ankara-backed militants that continue to attack the Syrian Army’s positions near the Turkish border.
The Associated Press reported that the assault by Turkish troops and its allied militants outside the town of Tal Tamar has resulted in Syrian casualties. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has also announced that three of its fighters were killed while fighting Ankara-backed militias.
Mazloum Abdi, commander of the SDF, tweeted that Turkish troops and their militants “continue to violate and launch attacks”. Turkey’s Defense Ministry reported that Kurdish militias attacked Turkish troops in Ras al-Ain, wounding five soldiers. Ankara announced its military responded “within the framework of self-defense”, without elaborating, according to AP.
The Kurds had struck an agreement with the Syrian government in a move to be shielded against the Turkish onslaught. The agreement envisages the dispatch of Syrian government troops to the Kurdish-held territories to receive control and block the incursion of the Turkish Army and its allied militants. The Kurdish militias have already delivered control over a number of towns and villages to the Syrian army, including Manbij, Raqqa, and Ein Al-Arab (Kobani).
On Tuesday, Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed after lengthy talks that Russian military police and Syrian servicemen will be deployed to northeastern Syria, while Turkey’s operation ‘Peace Spring’ will continue in a limited area. Regions not affected by the Turkish military operation will be jointly patrolled by the Turkish military and Russian military police up to 10km deep into Syrian territory.
Other parts of the Syrian border – from Kobani to Tel Abyad and from Ras al-Ayn to the Iraqi border – are set to be controlled by the Syrian military and border guards, supported by Russian military police. Kurdish militias – the prime target of Ankara military operation – must withdraw into Syrian territory beyond 30km from the Turkish border.
On Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry announced that Kurdish withdrawal from the Turkish border has begun. Middle East experts believe that Russian-Turkish deal on security arrangements in northeastern Syria is a major win for Moscow’s diplomatic approach, but Washington was hardly crushed by it.
In recent days almost 1,000 American troops have fled northeast Syria into Iraq, as Washington had declared that up to 1,000 American troops would be withdrawn from the northern part of the war-torn country because of the increasing danger posed by the fighting. Baghdad has stated that the US military has been authorized to cross into Iraq from Syria for further transportation out of the country, but have not been granted the approval to stay in the country.