Turkey’s PM has said Syrian rebels backed by its military have driven out “all terrorist organisations” from a strip of Syrian land bordering Turkey. Monitors said the presence of so-called Islamic State (IS) on the border had been ended. Turkey also describes Kurdish groups as terrorists.
The advance cuts off IS supply lines it used to import fighters and weapons. Separately, Syrian state forces recaptured parts of Aleppo lost to rebels last month. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made the announcement about Ankara’s military successes in a televised speech on Sunday.
He said: “Thank God, today, from Azaz to Jarablus, our 91km of borderline with Syria has been entirely secured. “All the terrorist organisations were pushed back – they are gone.”
As well as IS, Turkey considers the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish group, to be a terrorist group. The YPG, which is backed by the US-led coalition, had been gaining territory in the north of Syria. Mr Yildirim said Turkey would never allow the formation of an artificial state in the north of Syria.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “rebels and Islamist factions backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes” had taken several villages on the border between Turkey and Syria “after IS withdrew from them, ending IS’s presence on the border”.(BBC,2016)