Syrian government forces deploy along northeast Syrian border with Turkey

President Bashar Assad’s Syrian Arab Army has begun deploying in force along large sections of Syria’s border with Turkey, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

The deployments bring Syrian government forces for the first time in years to the northern border, where they will be stationed across from Turkish troops whose government still backs rebel groups that mobilised to overthrow Assad.

The news agency said Syrian troops had deployed along a 90-km stretch of border from the countryside east of Ras al Ayn to Qamishli, the city that served as the de facto capital for Kurdish-led autonomous administrations that controlled the country’s northeast before Turkey’s military operation this month.

Turkey views the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and its affiliates as terrorist groups, and launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to drive them away from its borders.

During the operation, Turkish forces captured a strip of land 32 km deep between the border towns of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad. Russian and Syrian government troops have been facilitating the withdrawal of SDF forces from remaining border areas between the River Euphrates and the Iraqi border, according to a deal signed by Ankara and Moscow last week.

On Sunday, SANA reported that Syrian government troops had clashed with Turkish-backed rebel groups near Ras al Ayn.