Turkish shelling in north Syria said to kill Russian soldier, wound others

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkish shelling in northern Syria early Monday hit a vehicle, killing one Russian soldier and injuring several others, Syrian Kurdish media and an opposition war monitor reported.

Monday’s shelling came after a day of violence between US-backed Kurdish fighters and Turkish troops in northern Syria left several dead on the Kurdish side.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian military, the Syrian government or Turkish officials on the reported shelling.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor of unclear funding, reported that one Russian soldier was killed and four others were wounded when Turkish troops shelled a road linking the villages of Herbel with Um Hawsh in Aleppo province.

The news agency for the semiautonomous Kurdish areas in Syria, Hawar News, reported that a Russian vehicle was hit, adding that there were casualties, but did not give a breakdown. Another Kurdish news agency, North press agency, said one Russian soldier was killed and three wounded.

Turkey’s defense ministry said Monday that at least 12 suspected members of the main Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, were killed after Turkish forces retaliated to a mortar attack on Turkish targets.

This photo released by the press office of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, shows protesters waving giant flags of the YPG and other parties and militias, during a demonstration against Turkish threats, in Afrin, Aleppo province, Syria, on January 18, 2018. (YPG Press Office via AP)

The ministry said on Twitter that Kurdish militants struck the Jibreen base area in northern Syria as well as the Oncupinar region in southern Turkey on Sunday. There was no damage to the base or Turkish soldiers.

Turkey’s military killed at least seven suspected militants in retaliatory strikes on Sunday and five others on Monday, according to the ministry.

The Observatory reported that a Turkish drone attack late Saturday killed three YPG fighters and wounded two others leading to the shelling the next day.

Siamand Ali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told The Associated Press that Turkish troops have intensified their attacks on Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria since this month’s presidential elections in Turkey. He had no comment on Monday’s attack.

Russia joined the war in Syria in 2015, launching an aerial campaign against Syria’s armed opposition and has since helped Syrian government forces gain control of much of the country.

Syria’s 12-year conflict has left nearly half a million people dead and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

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