Turkey: Syria offensive will continue despite pro-Assad threats

Turkey: Syria offensive will continue despite pro-Assad threats
Direct confrontation between Assad loyalists and Turkish forces edges closer as Ankara vows to push on into Syria.
2 min read
26 October, 2016
Syria's army warned that it will shoot down Turkish warplanes in Syrian airspace [Getty]
Turkey will continue to press on against the Islamic State group in Syria until the militants are driven from the town of al-Bab, Ankara said on Wednesday, despite threats against the Turkish military from Syrian regime loyalists.

Ankara's firm words follow the news that two rebels, backed by Turkey, were killed by a suspected regime barrel bomb attack in Syria. This was the first instance of a direct clash between Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad loyalists to be officially announced.

"This kind of attack will not stop our fight against Daesh [Islamic State]," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.

"This operation will continue until al-Bab. The operation needs to continue, and it will," he said.

As part of operation Euphrates Shield launched two months ago, Turkey is backing Syrian rebels who are driving towards al-Bab, situated northeast of Aleppo. This incursion is bringing the opposition fighters into closer proximity with Syrian regime loyalists and Kurdish forces, who Ankara also considers hostile.

Syria's army said last week that Turkey's military presence in Syria was a "dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria's sovereignty," warning that it would down Turkish warplanes in Syrian air space.

The commander leading Assad loyalist forces, which includes Hizballah, Iraqi militias and Iranian military fighters, also warned that Turkish advances north and east of Aleppo would be dealt with "decisively and with force," Reuters reported.