Turkey says it killed 15 Kurdish militants preparing attack in northeast Syria

ANKARA, December 27 (Reuters). Turkey announced on Sunday that its military had killed 15 militants belonging to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which was preparing to attack a region in northeastern Syria controlled by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies.
In an offensive known as the Spring Peace Operation last year, Turkey seized a 120 km border area in northeast Syria from the YPG, which it regards as a terrorist organization affiliated with the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) militia.
"Our heroic commands dealt another heavy blow to the PKK / YPG terrorist organization. Fifteen PKK / YPG terrorists who attempted to infiltrate the Peace Spring region from the south in order to carry out an attack were neutralized by the successful intervention of our commandos" said the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
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Turkey halted its offensive, widely condemned by Ankara's western allies, as the YPG was a key US ally in the fight against Islamic State, following an agreement with Russia and the United States.
Moscow said the YPG had withdrawn at least 30 km from the Turkish border, but Ankara was skeptical and held out the possibility of new attacks if militants stayed. US support for the YPG has been one of the main problems between Ankara and NATO allies Washington.
Turkey supports rebels who want to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran support Assad's armed forces. Since 2016, Turkey has conquered parts of northern Syria in four cross-border offensives in order to push back the Islamic State and the YPG and to prevent a renewed influx of migrants from Syria. (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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