Fighting erupts between Turkey-backed forces, Kurds in Syria - report

Heavy fighting has broken out between Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces and Kurdish militants in the Syrian region of Azaz, north of Aleppo, Northern Syria Observer reported on Friday.

Kurdish militias have also been exchanging artillery fire with the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army elsewhere, the website said.

Around 7,000 Turkish soldiers, as well as artillery and anti-aircraft guns, have been deployed in the countryside north and west of Aleppo, adjacent to Kurdish-controlled areas, according to members of the Syrian opposition quoted by Northern Syria Observer.

Turkey has threatened a military intervention in northern Syria after reports last week that the United States was creating a Kurdish border security force in the region. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has sought to defuse tensions, saying no such border force was planned.

The Turkish military operation will be supported by the same Syrian opposition factions that collaborated in the 2016-17 Euphrates Shield operation, in which Turkish forces intervened in northern Syria, west of the Euphrates river, Northern Syria Observer said.