DAMASCUS (Press TV) – Turkish-backed militants have burned local residents’ homes in the northern countryside of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, as they continue to commit crimes against the local population, including extortion and looting of their property.
Local sources, requesting not to be named, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Monday that several homes in the villages of al-Qasimia and al-Rihaniyya, which lie northwest of Tal Tamr town, had been set ablaze by the extremists the previous day.
The sources added that the acts of arson took place only a few days after Turkish-backed militants set fire to a number of farmlands in al-Qasimia village.
Turkish-backed militants were deployed to northern Syria last October after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants away from border areas.
Ankara views the U.S.-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
More than 200,000 people have been internally displaced by the Turkish-led offensive, according to the United Nations.
On October 22 last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted the YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone” in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.
Separately, Syrian government officials have discovered a considerable amount of weapons, including U.S.-built TOW anti-tank missiles, while conducting clean-up operations in the southern sector of the war-ravaged Arab country.
SANA reported that heavy machine guns, assault rifles, night-vision goggles, binoculars, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), anti-tank landmines, communication devices and hundreds of kilograms of hashish were seized in the area.
Syrian government officials also seized major stocks of Western-made weapons and munitions, including American TOW anti-tank missiles, last month while they were conducting clean-up operations in the country’s southwestern provinces of Dara’a, Suwayda and Quneitra.
SANA, citing an informed source speaking on condition of anonymity, reported on May 19 that the weapons were found as Syrian army troops were combing formerly militant-held areas.
Among the seized weapons were heavy machineguns, submachine guns, US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles, Israeli-built M72 LAW portable anti-tank rockets, landmines, rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, automatic rifles, sniper rifles, hand grenades and ammunition of various calibers.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding the Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
The government forces have already managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back most of Syrian soil under government control.