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Syrian and Turkey forces clash for first time

By Clyde Hughes
Syrian and Turkey forces clash for first time
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) meets with Syrian army personnel on frontlines of al-Habit town in Idleb countryside, Syria on Oct. 22. Syrian and Turkish forces fought against each other for the first time in northern Syria since a new Turkey offensive started. Photo by the Syrian Arab News Agency/EPA-EFE

Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Turkey and Syrian government forces fought against each other Tuesday for the first time since Turkey began its offensive earlier this month into northern Syria to go after Kurdish fighters.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the fighting happened in Al-Asdiyah region, near the city of Ras Al-Ayn. The organization said Turkey was joined by factions fighting against the Syrian government.

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The fighting included an "exchange of targeting and shelling, as a part of an attack carried out by the former from the northern and western sides backed by Turkish drones, amid the overflight of Turkish warplanes over the area."

The Syrian Observatory said that a commander in the pro-Turkey Corps Al-Majd faction was killed and seven other members were injured in the fighting.

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In the meantime, Russian special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said Monday in Geneva he hopes Kurdish forces have withdrawn from the border zone it created with Turkey along northern Syria in time of a joint Turkey-Russia takeover.

"I wouldn't say that there are no guarantees [that they will not have time to withdraw their forces within the 150-hour period stipulated by the memorandum]," Lavrentyev said. "An agreement has been reached between our presidents [Russia and Turkey], which means that both presidents gave certain guarantees. Let's wait and see."

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Some U.S. military officials accused Turkey Monday of killing civilians since the U.S. pulled out troops from northern Syria three weeks ago. The officials said Turkey is using more troops and weaponry it needs for its mission, bringing fears that more civilians will be killed.

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