Turkish, Syrian government forces clash near Ras al Ayn – local media
Turkish forces have clashed with Syrian government troops near the border town of Ras al Ayn, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing Syrian state media.
Reuters quoted Turkish-backed Syrian rebels as saying similar clashes had been taking place intermittently in recent days in areas south of the town.
Syria’s state news agency SANA published a report on Wednesday afternoon accusing the Turkish-backed groups of shelling locals’ houses in a village near Ras al Ayn and preventing access to a water plant in the area, effectively cutting off water to the Hasakah province where the border town is located.
On Wednesday morning Turkey’s Defence Ministry announced it had detained 18 people suspected of being soldiers form Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government in areas around Ras al Ayn.
The latest clashes indicate the fragility of a deal struck by Ankara and Moscow last week to halt Turkey’s military operation.
Under the terms of the deal, Russian and Syrian government forces facilitated the withdrawal of Kurdish-led groups seen as terrorists by Ankara from areas bordering Turkey.
But the arrival of forces loyal to Assad, whose downfall the Turkish government has sought since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, has brought them face to face with rebel forces backed by Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey launched its military operation against on Oct. 9, may dissolve and join Assad’s Syrian Arab Army as it seeks to reclaim control of northern territories near the border, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency quoted an Arabic daily as saying.