Urgent: Turkish army crossed the Syrian border


Turkish tanks have crossed into the Syria as part of a huge operation to drive Isis out of a key stronghold on the border. The incursion came on Wednesday morning, following a night of air strikes and shelling around the town of Jarablus.

More than 220 rounds rained down on the area overnight in bombardment that started at around 4am local time (2am BST), with huge explosions lighting up the night sky.

Turkish tanks have crossed into the Syria as part of a huge operation to drive Isis out of a key stronghold on the border. The incursion came on Wednesday morning, following a night of air strikes and shelling around the town of Jarablus.

More than 220 rounds rained down on the area overnight in bombardment that started at around 4am local time (2am BST), with huge explosions lighting up the night sky.

There were concerns the fighters could come into conflict with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish alliance backed by the US-led coalition that has already advanced to within a mile of Jarablus to the opposite bank of the Euphrates River

The SDF has driven Isis out from swathes of northern Syria in recent months, including the city of Manbij, but Turkey has been alarmed by the group’s success, seeing Kurdish groups including the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in control of land stretching almost the entire length of the Syrian border.

Despite being regarded as valuable allies of the US-led coalition, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the fighters “terrorists” and linked them with the separatist PKK group, which is fighting an insurgency in south-eastern Turkey.

His interior minister, Efkan Ala, raised fears of imminent conflict on Wednesday morning after saying that the threat in Syria did not only emanate from Isis but “other terrorist organisations”.

He vowed that the Jarablus operation would continue until the “last threat against Turkey is eliminated”, CNN Turk reported.

The offensive came after Isis was blamed for a suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people in the Turkish city of Gaziantep as they celebrated a wedding on Saturday.

The attack was the latest in a string of atrocities blamed on Isis in the country, which has also been targeted by Kurdish separatist groups in recent months

Wednesday was the first time Turkey’s air force has struck a target in Syria since November, when it downed a Russian jet near the border. Turkish military sources told Reuters Turkish special forces entered Syria while the bombardment continued, with an incursion by ground forces planned to “ensure border security and Syria’s national integrity”.

“The Turkish Armed Forces and the International Coalition Air Forces have launched a military operation aimed at clearing the district of Jarablus of the province of Aleppo from the terrorist organisation Daesh [Isis],” said a statement from the Turkish prime minister’s office.

Source: www.independent.co.uk

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