Turkey says it killed 15 Kurdish militants preparing attack in northeast Syria

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Syrian government forces arrive in the town of Tal Tamr, not far from the flashpoint Kurdish Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey. (Delil Souleiman, AFP)
Syrian government forces arrive in the town of Tal Tamr, not far from the flashpoint Kurdish Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey. (Delil Souleiman, AFP)

Turkey said on Sunday its military killed 15 militants from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which it said was preparing to carry out an attack in a region of northeast Syria controlled by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies.

In an offensive last year dubbed the Peace Spring Operation, Turkey seized a 120-km stretch of border territory in northeast Syria from the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organisation linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia.

"Our heroic commandos dealt another heavy blow to the PKK/YPG terrorist organisation. Fifteen PKK/YPG terrorists trying to infiltrate the Peace Spring region from the south to carry out an attack were neutralised with the successful intervention of our commandos," Turkey's Defence Ministry said on Twitter.

Turkey halted its offensive, which was widely condemned by Ankara's Western allies as the YPG was a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State, after striking deals with Russia and the United States.

Moscow has said the YPG withdrew to at least 30 km from Turkey's border, but Ankara has been sceptical and held out the possibility of new attacks if militants remain. US support for the YPG has been among the main issues between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies.

Turkey backs rebels looking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran support Assad's forces. Since 2016, Turkey has seized swathes of northern Syria in four cross-border offensives to drive back Islamic State and the YPG, and prevent a fresh influx of migrants from Syria.

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