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Turkish air strike on Syria border post claims 11 lives: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Soldiers stand near a Turkish armored vehicle during the first American-Turkish joint patrol in the so-called safe zone on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey near Tal Abyad, Syria, September 8, 2019. (File photo by AP)

A Turkish air strike on a Syrian border post has claimed the lives of nearly a dozen people in the war-torn country’s Kurdish-majority north.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that 11 "fighters" were killed in the Turkish air strike that hit a Syrian outpost near the Turkish border, without specifying whether those killed were affiliated with the Syrian army or US-backed Kurdish militants.

The Britain-based war monitor said the airstrike targeted the outpost in the village of Jarqali, west of the Kurdish-held border town of Kobani.

The strike followed an overnight flare-up between Turkish forces and Kurdish-led militants affiliated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that control the area.

Turkey's defense ministry said the Kurdish forces had intensified their cross border shelling of military positions in the Turkish territory, killing one soldier.

"Thirteen terrorists were neutralized" in retaliatory attacks by Ankara inside Syria, the ministry added, stressing that the operations were ongoing in the region.

Syrian media have yet to comment on the Tuesday’s attack near Kobani. If Syrian government forces are confirmed to be among those killed, the assault would mark one of the largest escalations since Ankara and Damascus traded attacks in 2020 following a Syrian strike that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in the northwestern province of Idlib.     

The latest development comes against the backdrop of Ankara’s stepped-up threats to launch a massive military operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria to establish what it calls a “secure line” along Turkey’s border with the Arab country.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again hinted at a plan for a cross-border operation in Syria to remove members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militant group, which is the backbone of the SDF.

Turkey has deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push YPG fighters away from border areas.

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.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials have said Damascus will respond through all legitimate means available to Turkey's ongoing ground offensive.

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