ISTANBUL - Two Turkish soldiers and at least six Kurdish rebels were killed in clashes in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border, the Turkish military said Tuesday.
The clashes erupted on Monday after Kurdish rebels attempting to cross from Turkey into Syria started firing at a patrol team in Turkey's Sanliurfa province, the army said in a statement. "Our patrol team came under fire from a group of 10-15 people... Two of our soldiers were killed..." it said. At least six Kurdish rebels - some from the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and some of them Kurdish militants fighting in Syria - were killed and one soldier was wounded, the army added. Reinforcement teams were deployed to the area following the incident, Dogan news agency reported. Earlier Tuesday, Sanliurfa governor Izzettin Kucuk described the group confronting the Turkish soldiers as "illegal smugglers".
As the conflict in Syria has drawn out over the past three years, Turkey has found it more difficult to control illicit movements across its porous border with its neighbour. Refugees, rebels and smugglers cross the frontier easily, creating a huge security challenge for Turkey.