Syria Kurds retake district of Ras al-Ain from Turkish-backed militias

Following “fierce clashes” on Sunday morning, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said its fighters had retaken most of Ras al-Ain, known to Kurds as Sari Kani, from Turkish-backed militias, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The stiff resistance put up by the SDF led to “the withdrawal of the factions from the industrial area, and the clashes are concentrated now in the area of Ras al-Ain [border] crossing as well as the area of Tal Halab”, the observatory reports.

“Amid an exchange of heavy and violent shelling, the SOHR documented the killing of more than 17 members of the pro-Turkey factions during the SDF’s counter attack in Ras Al-Ain.”

“Also four members of the SDF were killed in the same clashes, in the same context,” it added.

The Turkish Army and its Syrian proxies launched Operation Peace Spring against the SDF on Wednesday. Ankara considers the Kurdish-led force a terrorist organization and wants to push the Kurds away from the border region to establish a so-called ‘safe zone’.

The Kurdish administration accuses Turkey of trying to ethnically cleanse their towns and villages, which are also home to Arab and Assyrian communities.

Almost 200,000 residents have fled the fighting and artillery barrages. More than 40 civilians and around 76 SDF fighters have been killed, the observatory says.

SDF spokesperson Redur Khalil on Saturday put the number of SDF fighters killed at 45.

Turkey has continued to shell border towns including Qamishli, Kobane, and Gire Spi.

According to the observatory, US-led coalition forces have been redeployed in Qamishli city and Kobane.

Related: SDF demands no-fly zone for fair war with Turkey

The SDF on Saturday urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over northeast Syria to give them a fighting chance against the onslaught of the much bigger, better equipped forces of Turkey.

“All we want from the international community is a no-fly zone so we can have a fair war with Turkey,” Khalil said in a televised statement.