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Syrian Kurdish fighters kill at least 5 Turkey-backed fighters in nighttime attack, activists say

 Syrian Kurdish fighters carried out an attack early Monday in northern Syria, killing at least five members of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces, activists said.

The attack south of the northern town of Afrin, which is held by the Turkey-backed forces, took place shortly after midnight on Sunday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defense Ministry confirmed that two Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack on Sunday by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq. One of the soldiers died of his wounds in hospital.

The violence is the latest in a monthslong escalation between Turkey and Turkish-backed groups, and Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq. Ankara says the main Syrian Kurdish militia is allied to the outlawed Kurdish group. PKK has led an insurgency against Turkey since 1984 that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The Observatory, an opposition war monitor, said Monday's attack was carried out by the Afrin Liberation Forces, a Kurdish faction allied with the main Kurdish militia in Syria known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG. The group has claimed scores of attacks against Turkey-backed Syrian fighters.

Syria-based opposition activist Taher al-Omar said the attack took place about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Afrin. According to al-Omar, five members of the Turkey-backed faction Failaq al-Sham were killed. The Observatory said six died, but different tolls are not uncommon in the immediate aftermath of such attacks.

Afrin has been under the control of Turkey and its allied Syrian opposition fighters since 2018, following a Turkey-backed military operation that pushed Syrian Kurdish fighters and thousands of Kurdish residents from the area.

Since then, the town and surrounding villages have been the site of attacks on Turkish and Turkey-backed targets. Ankara considers Syrian Kurdish fighters who control a swath of Syrian territory along Turkey’s border to be terrorists, allied with Kurdish insurgents within Turkey.

Also Monday in northern Syria, Kurdish fighters fired several rockets at a Turkish army base near the town of Azaz, the Observatory and al-Omar said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

The Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency said at least nine rockets were fired at Azaz from Kurdish positions in nearby town of Tal Rifaat. The attack caused damage, Anadolu said, but did not report any casualties.

The violence comes a day after two explosions in northern Syria killed eight people, including three members of a Syrian Kurdish-led group in the town of Manbij.

AP
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