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Turkish-backed Takfiri militants torch homes in northeastern Syria: SANA

Turkish-backed Takfiri militants gather at a position in Afis on the outskirts of the government-controlled city of Saraqib, east of the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on February 26, 2020.

Turkish-backed Takfiri militants have reportedly burned a number of residential buildings in the countryside of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

The acts of arson took place in the town of Tel Arqam, which lies 10 kilometers west of the city of Ra’s al-Ayn and near Syria's border with Turkey, on Wednesday when militants from the so-called Badr Martyrs’ Battalion attacked the area, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported, citing local sources.

The sources then pointed to a surge in abductions the areas, where Turkish-backed Takfiri militants are present, particularly in Ra’s al-Ayn.

They added that a group of the Takfiris lately kidnapped a doctor from his home in the northern suburbs of the city.

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria last October after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away 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.

On October 22 last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.

Turkish army sends new military convoy to Idlib for joint patrols with Russia: SOHR

Also on Wednesday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Turkey had sent a new military convoy to Syria’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib, apparently for joint patrols by Turkish and Russian troops on the strategic M4 highway.

The convoy reportedly consisted of a large number of military vehicles and soldiers in addition to surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles.

The development took place only a day after the Britain-based war monitor, citing activists requesting anonymity, said a Turkish convoy of some 35 military vehicles had entered Syrian territory through the Kafr Lusin border crossing and headed toward Turkish positions.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on March 13 that the Russian and Turkish militaries had agreed on the details of a new ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone following four days of talks in Ankara.

Within the framework of the agreement, Akar said, the first joint patrol by Turkey and Russia on the strategic M4 highway in Idlib would take place on March 15, and that Turkey and Russia will set up joint coordination centers in the area.

The announcement followed a telephone call between Putin and Erdogan the previous day to discuss the implementation of the agreements the two leaders had reached in Moscow a week earlier.

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