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Syria Today – Tension Between Syrians and Lebanese; Turkey and SDF Escalate Fighting

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Tension Between Syrians and Lebanese; Turkey and SDF Escalate Fighting

Tensions surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon reached a breaking point on Thursday, resulting in confrontations between Lebanese and Syrian communities in Mount Lebanon and northern regions. Simultaneously, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported on Sunday that they had killed six Turkish soldiers and wounded seven others. while Turkish forces reportedly conducted overnight attacks on militant targets in northern Syria, resulting in the killing of 58 Kurdish militants, as stated by the Defense Ministry on Saturday.

Tensions over Refugee Crisis Boil over into Clash between Lebanese, Syrians

The tensions over the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon boiled over on Thursday into a clash between Lebanese and Syrians in Mount Lebanon and northern regions, Asharq al-Awsat reported.

Security forces and the army were quick to contain the clashes to prevent the tensions from taking violent turns in the future.

Syrians have come under increasing criticism in Lebanon in wake of the new flow of refugees who are escaping the economic crisis in their homeland. Lebanon itself is languishing under its own unprecedented economic crisis that many believe is being compounded by the refugees.

Moreover, the growing number of refugees has sparked warnings by Lebanese politicians that they pose an “existential threat” to Lebanon.

The government has since taken action. On Thursday, it shut over a hundred illegal businesses run by Syrians in the eastern Bekaa region.

The Lebanese believe that the Syrians are competition against them in the job market and are a burden on state services that are already lacking since the crisis erupted four years ago. Lebanon is hosting over 2 million Syrians, including 1.5 refugees, say authorities.

Last week, the tensions developed into clashes between the Lebanese and Syrians.

In the Dora area in Mount Lebanon – home to 2,000 Syrian refugees and workers – a dispute broke out near the Mar Maroun church. Soon after, announcements were made on loudspeakers for the local residents to gather and demand the ouster of the refugees and Syrian workers to leave the area.

Sources from the region told Asharq Al-Awsat that the tensions in the area had been simmering since Wednesday in the wake of a traffic accident between a Syrian youth and a Lebanese woman.

Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the fears will remain since the roots of the problem are still there.

The sheer number of Syrians makes it inevitable that they will interact with the Lebanese and cause more problems, noting that some of the Syrians already have criminal records, which only deepen the tensions.

SDF announces killing 6 Turkish soldiers in north Syria

North Press reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday killing six Turkish soldiers and injuring seven others, in addition to killing a militant of the Turkish-backed armed factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA), and injuring others in Tabqa and Ain Issa, north Syria.

The SDF said, in a statement, “At 9:00 pm on Friday, our forces targeted Turkish bases in the villages of al-Yabisah, Abdouki, Saida, Jamajim, Tina, and Mazraa in the countryside of Tabqa.”

On Oct. 5th, the Turkish army launched drone strikes on infrastructure facilities in several areas of north and northeast Syria that are run by the AANES. The strikes took place following a statement by Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, in which he threatened to strike a broader range of targets in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the Ankara attack.

On Oct. 1st, two individuals carried out a bomb attack in front of the building of the Ministry of Interior in Turkey’s Ankara injuring two police officers.

On Oct. 4th, Fidan claimed that the two attackers had been trained in Syria. “From now on, all infrastructure, large facilities and energy facilities belonging to (armed Kurdish groups) in Iraq and Syria are legitimate targets for our security forces,” he threatened.

The attacks resulted in the killing of three Turkish soldiers, including an officer, at the al-Yabisah base, in addition to injuring three others, according to the SDF statement.

Two Turkish soldiers were also killed at the Abdouki Turkish base, and three others were injured, while one militant of the SNA was killed and five were injured in the targeting of the Mazraa Turkish base, the statement added.

of one soldier and the injury of another.

Turkey says it killed 58 Kurdish militants in northern Syria

Reuters reported that Turkish forces have killed 58 Kurdish militants in northern Syria in overnight attacks on militant targets, according to a Defence Ministry statement on Saturday, as conflict in the region escalated nearly a week after a bomb attack in Ankara.

Turkey this week said all targets belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were “legitimate targets” for its forces after the PKK claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing in Ankara which wounded two police officers and killed the two attackers.

Turkey said the attackers came from Syria. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a coalition of rebel groups spearheaded by the YPG militia – denied this.

Since the bomb attack, Ankara has launched a barrage of air strikes and ground-based attacks against militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq, while ramping up security operations at home.

“Targets belonging to PKK/YPG terrorists in northern Syria’s Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Peace Spring operation areas were hit strongly all night long,” the ministry said, referring to regions where Turkey has previously mounted incursions.

The ministry said the operations, which it says are carried out under self-defence rights, had “neutralized” 58 militants in the region. Ankara typically uses the term “neutralized” to mean killed.

Late on Friday, the ministry had said Turkey’s military had conducted air strikes in northern Syria, destroying 15 militant targets where it said militants were believed to be.

Hezbollah bombards Israeli positions in disputed area along border with Syria’s Golan Heights

AP reported that Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group fired dozens of rockets and shells on Sunday at three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the country’s border with Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the attack using “large numbers of rockets and shells” was in solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.” It said the Israeli positions were directly hit.

Israel’s military fired back at the Lebanese areas, but there was no immediate word on casualties.

The Israeli army said it shelled the areas where the fire came from on the Lebanese side of the border.

Chebaa Farms was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war, but Lebanon considers it and the nearby Kfar Chouba hills as Lebanese territories.

Assad regime shelling kills seven civilians, including children, in northwest Syria: monitor

Shelling by regime forces targeting several locations in rebel-held northwest Syria killed seven civilians including four children on Saturday, a war monitor said.

Bashar Al-Assad’s regime has been bombing opposition-held areas in apparent retaliation for an attack on a military academy graduation ceremony in Homs on Thursday that killed dozens of people.

“Seven civilians, including four children, were killed in ground bombardment by regime forces on several locations” on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported.

It said three civilians, among them two children, died when government forces shelled a market and homes in the city of Idleb, and two more children were killed in shelling on the Idleb countryside.

Two men were also killed in separate bombardments in Aleppo and Idleb provinces, said the Britain-based monitor which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

Idleb province and parts of the neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces are controlled by the hardline Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), as well as more moderate rebel groups.

The Observatory said that more than 30 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in government bombardment of rebel-held areas since the Homs attack on Thursday.

State media said the attack on the academy had killed 89, while the Observatory reported a higher toll of 123 dead.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Homs attack, but the Syrian regime army accused “armed terrorist organisations” for the attack that used “explosive-laden drones”, and vowed to “respond with full force”

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