ANKARA: Syrian army troops on Wednesday were engaged in heavy clashes with Turkish forces in the countryside around the border town of Ras Al-Ain in an area where a military offensive by Ankara aims to create a "safe" zone, state media said.
It did not give details but Turkish-backed rebels said intermittent clashes have taken place in recent days with Syrian troops south of Ras Al-Ain, which was seized from Syrian Kurdish-led forces.
Syrian troops have with the agreement of Kurdish forces stepped in to take up positions in the area.
Meanwhile, Syria's army and police Wednesday called on Kurdish fighters and security forces in northeast Syria to join their ranks following a Turkish cross-border incursion, state media said.
The appeal comes after regime troops deployed along parts of Syria's northeastern border in a deal with Kurdish authorities to help stave off the Turkish offensive, launched October 9.
It is the largest Syrian army deployment in the area since 2012.
A separate ceasefire agreement reached between Ankara and Damascus-backer Moscow last week provided for members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to withdraw from the border and solidified the presence of pro-government forces there.
"The general command of the armed forces is ready to welcome members of SDF units who are willing to join its ranks," said a Syrian defence ministry statement carried by state news agency SANA.
It said all Syrians, including the Kurdish minority, are confronting "one enemy".
Syria's interior ministry said it was willing to provide police services to residents of the northeast, calling on members of the Kurdish internal security services, known as Asayish, to join its ranks, SANA reported.
The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies attacked Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria in early October with the aim of creating a roughly 30-kilometre (20-mile) deep buffer zone along the frontier.
Left in the lurch by a US troop withdrawal from the border area, Kurdish forces turned to the Syrian government for protection.
Damascus forces rushed north and are expected to deploy along much of the border zone, but a 10-kilometre-deep strip is set to be jointly patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops under their deal.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey’s president said that Turkish-Russian joint patrols will start in Syria on Friday.
“We will start the joint work on the ground on Friday, namely we are starting the joint patrols,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech to parliament.
In the same speech, he commented on the US’ recognition of the Armenian genocide, calling it “worthless.”
"From here I am addressing US public opinion and the entire world: this step which was taken is worthless and we do not recognise it,” Erdogan said.