Turkish troops dig in after sweeping over Syrian border

A Reuters witness in Karkamis, a Turkish border town, heard jets and artillery bomb Syrian targets.

The bombardments came after Ankara suffered its first military fatality since it launched the two-pronged offensive against the Islamic State group and Syrian Kurdish militia inside Syria on Wednesday.

Hours earlier, Ankara announced the first death of a Turkish soldier in the military operation it launched into northern Syria on August 23 - saying he was killed amid escalating fighting between Turkish ground forces and the YPG.

The death of a Turkish soldier in the newest battlefront of the Syrian war is stoking tensions between two US allies, Turkey's military and Syrian Kurdish rebels, heightening the risk to USA forces in the area and their common fight against Islamic State.

At least one soldier was killed and three others wounded on Saturday, Turkish security sources said.

Turkey's coming into conflict with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) or their Arab allies could further complicate its military campaign.

Still, Turkey's notorious hostility toward all things Kurdish had numerous locals taking up arms to resist the takeover of their villages, and the Turkish-backed rebels, mostly the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham force, engaged in heavy fighting with the population before ultimately occupying both villages. The rockets had been fired from an area where the YPG militia has been active.

On Sunday, Turkish forces ramped up their offensive, with Turkish warplanes and artillery pounding areas held by pro-Kurdish forces close to a town liberated from IS this week.

Turkey says that the YPG - which it regards as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - has failed to stick to a promise to return across the Euphrates River after advancing west this month despite guarantees given by Washington.

Kerry said late on Friday in Geneva that the U.S. had supported Kurdish fighters on a "limited basis" and remained in close coordination with Turkey.

Colonel Ahmed Osman, head of the Sultan Murad rebel group, said on August 28 that his Turkey-backed force was "certainly heading in the direction of Manbij" to confront YPG forces.

The Syrian government and its Russian ally are the only ones operating helicopters over Aleppo. But the opposition, whose fighters have opened another route in the south, were wary of the use of the government-controlled route.

Dozens of rebels, their families and some wounded left Daraya on Friday, in a boost for President Bashar Assad's forces as they try to secure their hold on the capital and amid a stalemate in the fight for the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.

ISIL has controlled territory along the Syria-Turkey border since 2013.



Other news