The Turkish military yesterday responded to harassment fire by the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria's Tel Rifaat.
"We fired back at YPG terrorists in response to its attacks on our military forces in the Operation Olive Branch area," said a National Defense Ministry statement yesterday.
The number of YPG attacks on the Turkish military has gone up in recent weeks. Last week, one lieutenant was killed and a major was severely injured in clashes between the Turkish military and the YPG.
The terrorist group has occupied Tel Rifaat for three years now. The territory between Tel Rifaat and Manbij has been dubbed "Shahba Canton."
The YPG occupied Tel Rifaat in 2016 in hopes of linking Afrin, a city in northwestern Syria, to areas under its control east of the Euphrates River, thus establishing a zone of influence along Syria's border with Turkey.
However, the Syrian district of al-Bab, which is located between Tel Rifaat and Manbij, falls within Operation Euphrates Shield's area-of-operations, thus disrupting the YPG's sought-for territorial link. Later in January 2018, the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements launched Operation Olive Branch to clear Afrin district of terrorist groups, liberating the town center in March. Some 250,000 refugees from Tel Rifaat and its outskirts have taken up temporary residence in the opposition-held city of Azaz, located adjacent to the Euphrates Shield zone.
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