Turkish soldiers and IS militants killed in Syria fighting

Turkish soldiers and IS militants killed in Syria fighting
2 min read
05 October, 2016
A Turkish soldier was killed in clashes with IS militants on the Turkish-Syria border, as Ankara's ambitious operation in the country’s north approaches its second month.
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have this month pushed towards Dabiq [Anadolu]
A Turkish soldier has been killed in clashes with Islamic State group militants in northern Syria, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

Three other soldiers were slightly injured in the confrontation which left 18 IS dead militants in Ziyara, east of al-Rai town, Anadolu news agency said.

Two rebel fighters were also killed in the battle after which the Turkish backed-opposition forces took control of four residential areas: Turkmen Bari, Kuyabah, Boztepe and Hardanah.

Eleven Turkish soldiers have been killed since Ankara began its operation on 24 August to remove IS elements from its border.

Most were killed by IS but one soldier was killed in an attack blamed on the Kurdish People's Protection Militia [YPG].

Ankara has sent dozens of tanks, artillery and hundreds of troops into northern Syria to help Syrian rebels recapture territory lost to IS and halt the westward advance of the YPG.

Turkey sees the YPG as a "terrorist" group linked to Kurdish separatists waging a 30-year insurgency in its restive south-east.

The YPG has been a key ally of the US-led coalition fighting IS and has seized large swathes of territory from the militant group, raising concerns in Ankara about the creation of a contiguous semi-autonomous Kurdish region along the Syria-Turkey border.

Coalition airstrikes have also supported the Ankara-backed Syrian rebels.

The Turkish-backed rebels have this month pushed towards Dabiq, which holds symbolic importance for IS because of a Sunni prophecy that states it will be the site of an end-of-times battle between "Christian forces and Muslims".

The Turkish operation's biggest success so far has been the capture of the former IS-held border town of Jarabulus, also in Aleppo province.

At the weekend, Ankara extended its current mandate for a year to allow military action in Syria and Iraq against IS and other groups that Turkey says are terrorist organisations.

Agencies contributed to this report.