VIDEO: Turkey’s Army Extends Military Operation against ISIS in Northern Syria

Sun Sep 4, 2016 16:03:48

Turkey and its rebel allies struck targets in al-Rai on Sunday (September 4) after opening a new line of attack in northern Syria, as Turkish tanks rolled across the border and Syrian fighters swept in from the west to take villages held by Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS).

The incursion was launched by Turkey from Kilis province - an area frequently targeted by Islamic State rockets - and coincided with a separate push by the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, who seized several villages further to the east.

By supporting the rebels, mainly Arabs and Turkmen fighting under the loose banner of the Free Syrian Army, Turkey is hoping to drive out Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) militants and check the advance of US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The rebels last week took the frontier town of Jarablus with Turkish support. The operation, called “Euphrates Shield”, is Ankara’s first full-scale Syrian incursion since the start of the five-year-old war.

While Euphrates Shield initially targeted Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) in Jarablus, most of the focus since has been on checking the advance of US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, to the alarm of NATO ally Washington.

Turkey disagrees with its ally’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which it considers a terrorist group.

The YPG has been among the most effective partners on the ground in the US-led fight against ISIS.

On Saturday (September 3) the tanks crossed the frontier and entered the Syrian rebel-controlled town of al-Rai to support the new offensive, a rebel spokesman and monitors said.

Al-Rai is about 55 km (34 miles) west of Jarablus, and part of a 90-km corridor near the Turkish border that Ankara says it is clearing of terrorists and protecting from Kurdish militia expansion.

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