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Syrian, Turkish forces clash near border town: report

Turkish forces reportedly clashed with Syrian government troops in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, signaling that a peace deal brokered by Russia between Kurdish forces in the region and Ankara may not hold.

Reuters reported that Turkish troops clashed with Syrian government forces, who were invited into the region by Kurdish forces, south of the border town of Ras al Ain.

Information about potential casualties was not immediately available, the news service added.

Turkey’s government has struck deals with the Trump administration as well as Russia, an ally of Syria’s government, to cease offensives against Kurdish forces, which it considers to be terrorists, in exchange for those forces abandoning an area in northeastern Syria where Turkey intends to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees.

Whether those agreements will last is unclear. It was not certain that Kurdish forces had abandoned the region, despite claiming to have done so.

Turkey’s president vowed Wednesday to continue operations if Kurdish groups do not withdraw.

“If we see that the members of the terrorist organization have not been moved out of the 30 km, or if attacks continue, no matter from where, we reserve our right to carry out our own operation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that U.S. troops would withdraw from the region now occupied by Turkish forces, a move widely condemned in Washington as a betrayal of Kurdish forces that aided a U.S.-backed coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Trump himself has defended the decision, pointing to his campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from so-called endless wars in the Middle East.

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