Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | turkey | ISIS. Syria | Kurds | Attack

Turkey Launches Major Attack in Syria With Kurds, ISIS in Sights

Image: Turkey Launches Major Attack in Syria With Kurds, ISIS in Sights

(AP)

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2016 06:25 AM

Turkey launched its biggest military operation in Syria on Wednesday in an effort to force Islamic State militants away from its border and to deter further advances by Syrian Kurds allied with Turkish separatists.

The airstrikes against jihadist positions around the town of Jarablus, reported by the prime minister’s office, were backed by Turkish special forces soldiers on the ground, according to CNN-Turk. While the troops were working to help open a corridor for Syrian rebel forces on the border, Turkey hasn’t begun a ground operation, the network said, citing military officials it didn’t identify.

The operation marks a major escalation in Turkey’s involvement in Syria, just weeks after it defeated an attempt by sections of the military to topple the government. At the weekend, a suicide bomber said to be linked to Islamic State killed at least 54 people at a wedding in Turkey’s largely Kurdish city of Gaziantep, the latest in a series of attacks. Syrian Kurds have been seeking to link their enclaves by wresting control of major towns and villages along the frontier with Turkey from Islamic State. That has alarmed Ankara, which fears it will embolden the nation’s own restive Kurds.

“Turkey is doing the right thing by shelling ISIS but for the wrong reason and that is purely to prevent the Kurds advancing," Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, founding president of the Middle East Research Institute, said by phone from Erbil. The intervention could undermine the war against Islamic State, he said as “the Kurds have proven to be the most effective force on the ground.”

The operation’s launch coincides with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said the offensive targeted both the jihadists and Kurdish fighters, vowing Turkey would “never kneel down.”

The U.S. will provide air support to Turkey if it’s planning a major operation against Islamic State around Jarablus, said a senior administration official, who could not be named in line with government policy. The offensive, which the U.S. had been discussing with Turkey, intended to push Islamic State further inside Syria and create a buffer against Kurds if they move further north, the official said.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through activists on the ground, said Turkey has deployed tanks and minesweepers to cut the roads leading to Jarablus, a city of 30,000, to make way for Free Syria Army rebels.

Kurdish PYD leader Saleh Moslem said in comments via Twitter that Turkey is “in Syrian quagmire” and will be “defeated” along with Islamic State.

Moslem’s comments shows the group’s only aim is to carve out a separate homeland instead of fighting against Islamic State, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said later in televised comments in Ankara.

Jarablus is one of the last major towns that Islamic State controls along the 
Syrian-Turkish border and has been a key staging area for transporting militants in and out of Turkey. Earlier this month, the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces seized Manbij, which is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Jarablus, from Islamic State.

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Turkey launched its biggest military operation in Syria on Wednesday in an effort to force Islamic State militants away from its border and to deter further advances by Syrian Kurds allied with Turkish separatists.
turkey, ISIS. Syria, Kurds, Attack
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2016-25-24
Wednesday, 24 Aug 2016 06:25 AM
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