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Turkish warplane bombs positions held by US-backed SDF militants in Syria’s Raqqah: SOHR

This file picture shows F-16 fighter jets operated by the Turkish Air Force in flight. (Photo by Hurriyet)

A so-called war monitor says a Turkish fighter jet has carried out airstrikes against an area held by US-sponsored SDF militants in Syria’s northern province of Raqqah.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the military aircraft had struck SDF positions in Saida village of the Ayn Issa district, which caused loud explosions.

The airstrike, it said, was the first of its kind in the past 17 months, when the Turkish army and allied militants launched a military operation across the border in northeast Syria.

The SOHR said the Turkish airstrikes came after violent clashes and intensive rocket fire on the frontlines of Ayn Issa district between SDF forces and Turkish-backed militants, which left a number of casualties.

“Clashes between the two sides have been going on for the last 24 hours... Turkish forces have had difficulty advancing since the SDF destroyed a Turkish tank,” the director of the SOHR, Rami Abdul Rahman, said.

On October 9, 2019, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

The military campaign, code-named Operation Peace Spring, stopped after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding on October 22 that year.

The agreement asserted that 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.

The YPG, which controls swathes of Syria's northern border region, forms the backbone of the SDF, which is an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants supported by Washington.

Ankara views the 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.

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