Turkey launched its biggest military operation in Syria to force Islamic State militants away from its border and deter further advances by Syrian Kurds allied with Turkish separatists.
Airstrikes pounded Islamic State positions and Turkish tanks crossed the frontier, opening a corridor for Turkish-backed rebel groups along the border, state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Rebels captured at least four villages during the first 12 hours of their march toward the strategic town of Jarablus, Turkey’s DHA news agency reported, citing military sources.
The operation is a major escalation in Turkey’s involvement in Syria, just weeks after a failed coup attempt by sections of the military. Syrian Kurds have been seeking to link enclaves they control by seizing 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, a NATO nation, just invaded Syria.