Kurdish-backed fighters fighting Turkish military in tanks on the Syrian side of the border

Turkish soldiers on a self-propelled howitzer at the border between Turkey and Syria's Kilis Elbeyli district

Turkish soldiers on a self-propelled howitzer at the border between Turkey and Syria’s Kilis Elbeyli district Photo by Anadolu Agency

AFP

Kurdish-backed fighters clashed with the Turkish military in tanks on the Syrian side of the border on Saturday, a monitoring group and Kurdish sources said.

“Turkish tanks advanced today near Al-Amarneh in Aleppo province, south of the border, and clashes broke out between them and fighters backed by Kurdish forces,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

A source within northern Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region confirmed the clashes between local fighters and Turkey’s army which has launched an incursion to expel jihadists from the border region.

“It’s the first such case since Turkish tanks entered into Syrian territory on Wednesday,” Abdel Rahman said.

A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as they drive from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016.REUTERS/Umit Bektas

He said the local fighters were Arabs allied with the Kurds.

Turkey on Saturday sent more tanks into Syria to bolster a military offensive against jihadists and Kurdish fighters.

The deployment resulted in Ankara-backed Syrian Arab rebels wresting the border town of Jarabulus from the Islamic State jihadist group within hours on Wednesday.

Al-Amarneh is also on the border, eight kilometres (five miles) south of Jarabulus.

Turkey’s military operation inside Syria — codenamed “Euphrates Shield” — aims to oust IS from the border region but also to counter advances by a Kurdish militia opposed by Ankara.

Turkey’s leadership has made clear that it aims to hold back the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which has led the fight against IS in northern Syria.

Ankara says the YPG has failed to stick to a promise made by its US allies that the militia would move back east across the Euphrates River.

Turkey sees the YPG and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing, which have links to Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey, as “terror groups”.

 Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan greets the crowd during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city’s European and Asian sides, in Istanbul, Turkey, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

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Turkish armoured personnel carrier escorts a military vehicle on a main road in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
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 Smoke  rises from the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, before rebels and residents start being evacuated under an agreement reached on Thursday between rebels and Syria’s army, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

 

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