Syrian government forces and the Turkish military clashed on Tuesday for the first time since Ankara launched an offensive in northeastern Syria three weeks ago, a war monitor said.
“Heavy fighting erupted for the first time between the Syrian and Turkish armies,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The Britain-based monitoring group said artillery and machine-gun fire was exchanged near the village of Assadiya, south of the border town of Ras al-Ayn.
At least six Syrian soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the Observatory said.
The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies attacked Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on October 9 with the aim of creating a roughly 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep buffer zone.
Kurdish forces agreed to withdraw from a 120-kilometer (75 mile) long, Arab-majority segment of the 440-kilometer (275-mile) border zone, although clashes have been reported since.
Turkey subsequently reached a deal with the Syrian government’s main backer Russia for Kurdish forces to pull back from the entire border area.
Left in the lurch by a US troop withdrawal from the border area, Kurdish forces turned to the government for protection.
Government forces are now expected to deploy along much of the border zone but a 10-kilometer-deep strip is to be jointly patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops, starting from Tuesday.