Clashes in Kurdish-held northeast Syria between the army and Turkey-backed armed factions killed 23 people on Sunday after pro-Ankara rebels attempted to infiltrate the area, a war monitor said.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported “18 dead among the (pro-Turkish) factions and five from the regime forces”, adding that others were wounded.
The clashes took place in the Tal Tamr area in Kurdish-held Hasakeh province’s northwest, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.
Factions from the coalition of Ankara-backed rebel groups known as the Syrian National Army had sought to infiltrate the region earlier in the day, it added.
The Syrian army and local fighters affiliated with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces responded, leading to the casualties, the Observatory added.
The Tal Tamr area is near a strip of border territory under the control of Ankara and its proxies.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched several incursions against Kurdish forces in northern Syria that have allowed Ankara to control areas along the border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long sought to establish a “safe zone” 30 kilometres (20 miles) deep along the whole length of the frontier.
A 2019 Russian-brokered agreement saw Syrian government forces deployed along parts of the northern border area in exchange for Turkey halting an earlier offensive.