Turkish soldier killed in attack near Syrian border

Monitors say Turkey responded with raids on Syrian army and Kurdish-led forces' outposts, killing three

A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighter on the front line against the Syrian Democratic Forces near the northern city of Manbij. AFP
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Militants launched rockets at a Turkish military post near the Syrian border, killing one soldier and wounding another, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.

It did not say who was responsible for Sunday's attack, but Turkish forces are in conflict in that region with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist group and which is a key part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Turkey responded with raids in northern Syria. Outposts operated by the Syrian army and Kurdish-led forces were hit, killing three, a Britain-based war monitor said.

The raids near the Kurdish-held border town of Kobani targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The three casualties were wearing Syrian army uniforms, according to the monitor.

Several other fighters were wounded, some critically, according to the monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

The Turkish Defence Ministry said that after the attack on the post at Suruc, in Sanliurfa province, Turkish forces retaliated.

“Targets were identified in the area and immediately fired upon, with 12 terrorists neutralised according to initial information,” it said. The term neutralised usually means killed.

It said operations were continuing in the area.

Flags of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ), flutter in Tal Tamer, in northeastern Syria, June 10, 2022.  Picture taken June 10, 2022.  REUTERS/Stringer  NO RESALES.  NO ARCHIVES.

Last month, the Syrian government said it would respond to direct attacks by Turkey against its forces.

The warning came after a Turkish raid on a regime outpost near Kobani killed at least three troops in mid-August, according to the official Sana news agency.

Turkey has launched cross-border offensives targeting Kurdish forces and ISIS militants since 2016, but such operations have rarely resulted in the killing of Syrian regime fighters.

Ankara has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to lead to an offensive against Kurdish fighters viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

Regime forces have been sent to areas controlled by Kurdish fighters near the border with Turkey as part of agreements intended to stem a fresh Turkish operation.

Last week, the UN's Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that “another Turkish ground operation” remains a threat in Syria's north, amid “continued mobilisation and fighting” between Turkish and Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish-led opponents.

“Syria cannot afford a return to larger-scale fighting, but that is where it may be heading,” said Paolo Pinheiro, the head of the commission.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 7:10 AM