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Islamic State expelled from Turkey's Syrian border, says Ankara

The news comes as Syrian government troops renewed the siege of rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Sunday. In photo: A wall along the border between Turkey and Syria is pictured near the southeastern town of Deliosman in Kilis province, Turkey. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Ankara, Turkey Sep 05, 2016, 02.26 AM (IST)
More than a week after Ankara launched the Syrian incursion, called Euphrates Shield, deploying tanks and air power to support the rebels who swept into the border town of Jarablus, Islamic State (IS) jihadists were expelled from their last positions along the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey claimed on Sunday.  

Asserting that his nation's forces and Syrian rebels had pushed back 'terrorist organisations' on its southern border, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim said in a speech on Sunday that IS has been deprived of a key transit point for its recruits and supplies.  

"We are there to protect our border, to provide for our citizens safety of life and property, and to ensure Syria's integrity," Yildirim told. 

"We will never allow the formation of an artificial state in the north of Syria," he told a crowd in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast and added,  "From Azaz to Jarabulus, our 91 km border has been completely secured."
The news comes as Syrian government troops renewed the siege of rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Sunday while Washington and Moscow failed to reach a deal on stemming violence in the country's devastating war.  


The news comes as Syrian government troops renewed the siege of rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Sunday while Washington and Moscow failed to reach a deal on stemming violence in the country's devastating war.  

Fighting under the loose banner of the Free Syrian Army, the rebels, mainly Syrian Arabs and Turkmen took charge of the frontier between Azaz and Jarablus after clearing out the Sunni hardline group, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

The conflict that has spanned for more than five years has become increasingly complex gradually involving not only regime and rebels, but international backers on both sides, Kurdish forces, jihadists and now Turkey.  A solution to the civil war that has killed about 300,000 people and displaced millions remains elusive despite several rounds of international negotiations. 

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier "rebels and Islamist factions backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes" had taken several villages on the Turkish-Syrian border "after IS withdrew from them. 

The operation was started by Ankara inside Syria on August 24, using tanks and war planes to back opposition fighters with special forces also providing support.
 
The conflict that has spanned for more than five years has become increasingly complex gradually involving not only regime and rebels, but international backers on both sides, Kurdish forces, jihadists and now Turkey.


Turkey's success is also likely to deliver a blow to the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which has been gaining territory in Syria's north after working with the US-led coalition against the jihadist force. Ankara fears  that gains by the Syrian Kurdish YPG will embolden militants at home. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would not allow a "terror corridor" on its southern border.

With Turkey's rapid success in less than two weeks, his position looks stronger with territory in between the two Kurdish "cantons" of Afrin and Kobane now in the hands of Ankara-backed rebels.

(WION with inputs from AFP, Reuters) 


 
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