Turkey-backed Syrian rebels seize IS-held border town of Jarabulus
Video footage posted online showed Free Syrian Army [FSA] fighters walking through the centre of an abandoned Jarabulus after they took control of four nearby villages.
Turkish special forces accompanied by tanks, minesweepers and FSA fighters crossed into Syria at 12pm local time to push IS out of the border frontier.
The Turkish operation - dubbed "Euphrates Shield" - began early Wednesday with Turkish artillery pounding dozens of IS group targets around Jarabulus, followed by Turkish and coalition warplanes bombing the town.
But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasised the operation was also targeting Kurdish militia fighters strongly opposed by Ankara - but backed by the US as a key ally against IS - who had also been closing in on Jarabulus.
The Syrian regime has condemned the Turkish incursion as a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty.
FSA fighters prepare to storm the city [TNA]
Aldar Khalil, a member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party [PYD], called the operation a "declaration of war."
"The Turkish intervention in Jarabulus is a breach of Syria's sovereignty ... and a declaration of war on the [Kurdish] autonomous administration and federal system," Khalil said.
US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for meetings with Erdogan in an effort to help improve relations strained by Turkey's attempted military coup last month.
Biden said that the US is against Kurdish-controlled corridor along the Turkish border, adding that the Kurds will not be supported unless they retreat east of the Euphrates river.
|US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Turkey on Wednesday for meetings with Erdogan in an effort to help improve relations strained by Turkey's attempted military coup last month.|
A total of 46 IS militants have so far been killed, the Dogan news agency reported.
The Arabic-language hashtag #EuphratesShield has recently gained traction on Twitter shortly after the offensive was launched.