Turkish forces kill six Syrian soldiers in border clash - AFP

Turkish armed forces on Tuesday killed at least six Syrian regime fighters in heavy clashes near the Syrian border town of Ras al Ayn, Agence France-Presse reported.

The deaths coincide with reports of artillery and machine-gun fire in the south of Ras al Ayn, AFP said citing Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The heavy fighting was a first between the Syrian and Turkish armies, it said.

“Turkish artillery fire killed five regime forces,” AFP quoted Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, as saying.

Turkish-backed Syrian militia executed one captured Syrian soldier, Rahman told AFP.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in Kurdish-held northeast Syria on Oct. 9 following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area.

Turkey’s operation aimed to establish a safe zone along its southern border in Syrian territory between the country and U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority-Kurdish umbrella organisation that has controlled the area for several years.

Turkey considers the SDF and its main fighting force, People’s Protection Units (YPG), which spearheaded the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS, to be terrorist organisations.

The clashes and casualties came at the end of a 150-hour period when Russia would oversee the removal of the SDF and YPG from the 120 km long and 30 km deep safe zone to be established as per an agreement between the two countries on Oct. 22.

Following the United States’ decision to withdraw and a deal between Russia and Turkey, the SDF had come to an agreement with the Syrian President Bashar Assad for Syrian government forces to enter the area the Kurdish-majority group controlled.