Syrian government troops have retaken a village in the country’s northeastern province of Hasakah from Turkish military forces and their allied militants following intense clashes.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that heavy skirmishes broke out on Saturday afternoon when the Turkish forces and their mercenaries launched an offensive against the village of Um Shuaifeh near the border with Turkey.
The report added that the battles involved heavy and medium weapons, noting that Syrian troops finally managed to liberate the village and establish full control over it.
They forced Turkish forces and their allies to retreat towards the village of Mahmudiya, SANA said, without providing any information about possible casualties.
Meanwhile, a correspondent and two cameramen for the state-run al-Ikhbariyah Syria television news network, identified as Fadel Hammad, Walid Ibrahim and Mohammed al-Khaled respectively, were injured by tank shell shrapnel during the coverage of the clashes.
The development came a day after residents of the village of Dayr al-Ghosn in Hasakah province pelted the armored military vehicles of Turkish troops with stones and shoes.
Turkish forces, in return, fired tear gas to quell the protest and disperse the crowd.
Separately, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a young man had lost his life after a Turkish military vehicle ran him over in the village of Sarmsakh near the border with Turkey.
The Britain-based war monitor said villagers had gathered in an area to express their rejection of Turkish troops’ presence. The protesters threw stones, shoes and vegetables at the Turkish forces.
Medical sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Observatory that the young man arrived at al-Malikiyah Hospital in critical condition, and died there as a result of excessive internal bleeding. He also had his pelvis and most of his bones broken.
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the Kurdish-dominated so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants must withdraw from the Turkish-controlled “safe zone” in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow will run joint patrols around the area.
The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.