Turkey army, Kurd-backed forces clash in north Syria: monitor, Kurds

AFP , Saturday 27 Aug 2016

Turkish troops head to the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 (Photo: AP)

Kurdish-backed fighters clashed with the Turkish military in tanks on the Syrian side of the border on Saturday, a monitoring group and Kurdish sources said.

"Turkish tanks advanced today near Al-Amarneh in Aleppo province, south of the border, and clashes broke out between them and fighters backed by Kurdish forces," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

A source within northern Syria's semi-autonomous Kurdish region confirmed the clashes between local fighters and Turkey's army which has launched an incursion to expel jihadists from the border region.

"It's the first such case since Turkish tanks entered into Syrian territory on Wednesday," Abdel Rahman said.

He said the local fighters were Arabs allied with the Kurds.

Turkey on Saturday sent more tanks into Syria to bolster a military offensive against jihadists and Kurdish fighters.

The deployment resulted in Ankara-backed Syrian Arab rebels wresting the border town of Jarabulus from the Islamic State (IS) group within hours on Wednesday.

Al-Amarneh is also on the border, eight kilometres (five miles) south of Jarabulus.

Turkey's military operation inside Syria -- codenamed "Euphrates Shield" -- aims to oust IS from the border region but also to counter advances by a Kurdish militia opposed by Ankara.

Turkey's leadership has made clear that it aims to hold back the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which has led the fight against IS in northern Syria.

Ankara says the YPG has failed to stick to a promise made by its US allies that the militia would move back east across the Euphrates River.

Turkey sees the YPG and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing, which have links to Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey, as "terror groups".

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