Turkey Says Operation Launched to Free IS-held Syrian Town
Turkey’s prime minister’s office said the Turkish military and the U.S.-backed coalition forces on Wednesday launched an operation to clear a Syrian border town from Islamic State militants.
Operation began at 4 a.m. with Turkish artillery launching intense fire on Jarablus followed by Turkish warplanes bombing IS targets in the town.
It’s not clear if any Turkish or Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces have crossed the border.
The agencies said the operation aims to clear Turkey’s border of “terror organizations” and increase border security. It said the aim also is to “prioritize and support” Syria’s territorial integrity.
The assault follows Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlet Çavusoğlu pledge on Tuesday of “every kind” of support for operations against IS along a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch of Syrian frontier, putting the NATO member on track for a confrontation with U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, who have been the most effective force against IS and who are eyeing the same territory.
Çavusolğu said Turkey would support twin operations stretching from the Syrian town of Afrin in the northwest, which is already controlled by Kurdish forces, to Jarablus, in the central north, which is held by the Islamic State group.
“It is important that the terror organizations are cleansed from the region,” Çavusolğu said in a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart.