Turkish soldiers near the border town of Ras al-Ain in northern Syria, October 12, 2019 ()Nazeer Al-khatib/AFP]
Assad regime officials say their troops are fighting Turkey’s forces in northeast Syria.
State news agency SANA claimed Wednesday that regime units clashed with Turkish troops and Syrian rebels in a village near the town of Ras al-Ain, occupied by the Turkish-rebel offensive after a withdrawal by Kurdish militia earlier this month.
Ankara’s offensive was launched on October 9, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declaring the intent to take an area 480 km (270 miles) long and 30 km (19 miles) deep along the Turkish-Syria border. The zone, extending east of the Euphrates River to Iraq, covers the Kurdish cantons of Kobani and Cezire.
Last week Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, after a summit in southern Russia, announced joint military oversight of the area. Ankara said it was willing for Assad regime forces to accompany Russian military police in parts of the territory, but did not specify where.
The regime, which has rejected Kurdish autonomy in northeast Syria, has asserted that it will regain “every inch” of the country amid the 103-month conflict.
SANA asserted yesterday that regime units are deploying along the Turkish border in Hasakah Province in the northeast, “assuming their mission in preserving stability and security in these regions and confronting the Turkish aggression on Syrian territories”.
Turkish State media is silent about the Assad regime’s claim. However, Daily Sabah, close to the Government, headlines a report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, “Number of Assad’s Victims Dwarfs That of Daesh leader Baghdadi’s”.
The article notes SNHR’s documentation of almost 200,000 civilians killed by the regime, compared to about 5,000 by the Islamic State.
Russia, which is trying to hold a line between Ankara and the regime, is also silent on the SANA articles. State outlet TASS prefers to run a feature, “Russian Military Police in Syria Depart for Joint Patrol with Turkey”.