Syrian troops battle Turkish-backed fighters near the border town of Ras al-Ain, threatening Russia-backed ceasefire.
Heavy fighting between Syrian army troops and Turkish forces erupted near Ras al-Ain as Turkish-backed forces seized villages surrounding the border town.
Turkish-backed rebels said there were intermittent clashes between the two militaries in recent days south of the town, which Turkey seized from Syrian Kurdish-led forces earlier this month.
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the border town of Sanliurfa, said thousands of people were fleeing the fighting near Ras al-Ain and Tal Tamr towns.
Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters – known as the Syrian National Army (SNA) – launched an offensive and took over areas previously under control of Kurdish fighters south of Ras al-Ain, he said.
As fighting intensified, Syrian troops deployed reinforcements from Derbasiyah to Tal Tamr.
“The SNA took over western parts of the town. People have had enough each time someone controls the area and ends up being worse than the previous armed group,” one Tal Tamr resident told Al Jazeera.
“I am concerned for my children, this is why I am leaving. The Syrian army is on the frontline to stop the rebels’ offensive, but you never know.”