Turkey Says It Captured 18 Syrian Soldiers, in Talks With Russia to Return Them

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Turkey's defense minister says 18 Syrian government soldiers have been captured during its military operations in northeast Syria, including two who are wounded.

Hulusi Akar, defense minister, said during a visit to Turkish border units, that Ankara was in talks with Russia to hand over the captured soldiers. His comments were carried on the official ministry website Thursday. It was not clear when the soldiers were captured but the minister said they were taken southwest of the town of Ras al-Ayn, which has been at the center of a Turkish military invasion of northeastern Syria.

Turkey halted its military operation into Syria through two separate cease-fires brokered by the U.S. and Russia. Under the deal, Kurdish fighters would withdraw to 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from the Turkish border and Syrian government forces would take positions along the borders.

A war monitor says a car bomb in a vegetable market in a northern region of Syria held by Turkish-led forces has killed at least five people and wounded 10.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the blast happened Wednesday in Afrin, a town captured from Syrian Kurdish fighters early last year. The area is controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters and has seen sporadic violence since then.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says nine people were killed and 20 wounded in the attack.

Turkey launched another cross-border operation earlier this month, invading northeastern Syria to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters who had partnered with U.S. forces against the Islamic State group.

Ankara views the Syrian Kurdish fighters as an extension of the decades-long Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

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