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Turkish-Russian patrols pelted by residents in north Syria

Local residents pelted with shoes and stones on Friday Turkish and Russian troops who were conducting their third joint patrol in northeastern Syria, under a cease-fire deal brokered by Moscow that forced Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey.

The patrols are aimed at allowing Turkey to ensure that the Syrian Kurdish groups have evacuated the border zone. The agreement with Russia — and a separate one with the U.S. — halted the Turkish invasion of Syria last month that targeted groups it considers a security threat for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

The pelting of the Turkish-Russian patrol occurred east of the border town of Qamishli, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, and the Kurdish Hawar news agency. Videos from the area showed men, women and children pelting armored vehicles as they drove near a cemetery before speeding away.

Turkish army officers, right, speak with a Russian army officer near the Turkish town of Idil at the Turkey-Syria border before they conduct their third joint patrols in northeast Syria, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Turkish and Russian troops are conducting joint patrols under a deal between the two countries that forced Syrian Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

There was no immediate comment from the Russian or Turkish military about the incident that appears not to have caused damage to the vehicles.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said the troops were patrolling a region between Qamishli and Derik, east of the Euphrates River. It said the patrols were being supported by drones, but provided no further details.

An Associated Press journalist saw four Turkish armored personnel carriers cross into Syria to join the Russian forces.

Turkish army's armoured vehicles arrive at a meeting point near the Turkish town of Idil at the Turkey-Syria border before Turkish and Russian troops conduct their third joint patrols in northeast Syria, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Turkish and Russian troops are conducting joint patrols under a deal between the two countries that forced Syrian Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

Mutafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, tweeted that Turkish troops fired tear gas on protesters in Derik, injuring 10 people. The town is controlled by SDF and American forces, but the Turkish troops were passing through on the patrol.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained this week that Syrian Kurdish fighters were still present in areas along the border, despite the separate agreements with Russia and the United States.

Erdogan also said Turkish troops were being attacked by some Syrian Kurdish fighters from areas they had retreated to, adding that Turkey would not "remain a spectator" to these assaults.

The U.N. said on Friday that 92 civilians have died so far as a result of Turkey's incursion into northern Syria. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, said the death toll was based on "verified incidents" that included to Nov. 5.

Also in northern Syria, the Observatory and the Thiqa news agency, an activist collective, said on Friday a suicide attacker detonated a truck outside a police station in the northern town of Rai that is controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

The Observatory said the blast killed three people, while Thiqa reported two civilian deaths.

Bombings in areas held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria are not uncommon. Last week, 13 people were killed in a blast in the town of Tal Abyad, which Turkish troops and opposition fighters they back captured last month.