VIDEO: After Turkey Offensive, Syrian Town Starts Erasing Legacy of ISIS Militants

Thu Sep 1, 2016 13:40:54

The silhouette of an Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) terrorist fighter on a rearing horse, a black flag in his hand and a sabre by his side, is among the disappearing traces of the terrorists’ grip on this Syrian border town on Wednesday (August 31), a week after Turkish-backed terrorists (rebels) swept in.

Murals scrawled on walls by the ultra-hardline terrorists who ran Jarablus for three years is gradually being covered with blue paint.

Children play again in dusty streets, their hair matted with sweat and dirt, while women hang laundry outside buildings on the edge of town, some of them half-destroyed.

Syrian terrorists (rebels), mostly Arab and Turkmen, swept into Jarablus last Wednesday (August 24) in an incursion backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and jets — an operation meant to drive Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) from the town and surrounding territory and to prevent Kurdish militia fighters from seizing control in their wake.

A week on, there is little sign of the Turkish military presence.

Syrian terrorist fighters, some in camouflage fatigues and sandals, others in civilian clothes, are the ones in control, patrolling on motorbikes and in flat-bed Toyota trucks.

Celebratory gunfire rang out as some of the young rebels (terrorists) shot into the air and flashed victory signs, wanting their pictures taken and showing off for a gaggle of mostly Turkish TV cameras on a visit facilitated by the Turkish government.

TRT World footage filmed on Monday (August 29) showed a captured prison in the town used and left by Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) members.

The terrorists and their Turkish backers announced they were in control of Jarablus within hours of mounting their operation last week, but the town still sits on the edge of a highly active war zone.

Three Turkish soldiers were wounded on Tuesday (August 30) after their tank came under fire west of Jarablus.

Yasin Darvish, a trained urologist working as a doctor in a small, dingy clinic, said the ISIS had taken everything as they fled, leaving barely enough supplies to treat the wounded.

Food and medical aid have been brought in from Turkey. “They (Islamic State) took with them the equipment. The hospital now is empty. This emergency room, we bring the equipment, drugs and consumables from Azaz. This from IDA - Independent Doctor’s Association,” he said, adding that 30 patients had been brought in on Wednesday alone, some with injuries from landmines.

Jarablus sits on the northeastern edge of a rectangle of Syrian territory some 80 km (50 miles) long, seized by Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) as it carved its self-declared caliphate out of swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Turkey and the United States have long hoped that by sweeping Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL / IS) from this border zone, they can deprive it of a smuggling route which has seen its ranks swollen with foreign fighters and its coffers boosted by illicit trade.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday the aim of the military incursion, dubbed “Operation Euphrates Shield”, was to “cleanse” the strip of territory of all militant groups and threats to Turkish security.

But this is a complex corner of Syria’s five-year war. Just to the east, over the Euphrates, lies territory controlled by a US-backed Kurdish militia also fighting the terrorists, but seen by Turkey as a hostile force, an extension of militants who have fought a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey.

Turkish forces have clashed with Kurdish fighters as they push deeper into Syria south of Jarablus, meaning the town and its surroundings remain on the edge of an active frontline, Reuters reported.

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