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Five Turkish soldiers injured in northeast Syria attack

Five Turkish soldiers were wounded Thursday, October 24 after an attack by Syrian Democratic Forces fighters in a northeastern Syrian border town, Turkey’s defense ministry said.

They were injured after “drone, mortar and light weapon attacks” from “PKK/YPG terrorists” while conducting reconnaissance and surveillance in the Ras al-Ayn region, the ministry said on Twitter.

It said they retaliated in self defence, but gave no further details.

Ankara considers the YPG, the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance, to be inextricably linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and often conflates the groups.

Under the October 17 U.S.-Turkey agreement, Ankara and its Syrian rebel proxies have control over the 120-km (75-mile) stretch of territory between Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad after the SDF agreed to withdraw from the area. On October 22, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced a separate agreement for the area includes an SDF pullback.

Syria mapThe deal came after Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, a cross-border offensive against the U.S.-led Coalition backed SDF on October 9, which led to immediate international condemnation.

The U.S. said Tuesday that the SDF pullout had been completed after Turkey suspended its operation for five days.

Washington then lifted sanctions on Turkey.

Earlier on Thursday, the SDF accused the Turkish army and the rebels of attacking several villages near Tel Abyad in northeastern Syria.

The “SDF will exercise its right to legitimate self defense and we are not responsible for the violation of the agreement,” spokesperson Mustafa Bali said on Twitter.

With reporting from AFP

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