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Turkish Army Starts Operations Against Syria to Secure Border

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Turkey launched its biggest military operation in Syria to force Islamic State militants away from its border and deter further advances by Syrian Kurds allied with Turkish separatists.

Airstrikes pounded Islamic State positions and Turkish tanks crossed the frontier, allowing the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army to win control of the strategic town of Jarablus, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Turkey will continue operations in Syria until imminent threats to national security have been neutralized, a Turkish official said, asking not to be named in line with administration policy.

The operation, which drew air support from the U.S. and approving words from Russia, is a major escalation in Turkey’s involvement in Syria, just weeks after a failed coup attempt by elements of the military. Syrian Kurds have been seeking to link enclaves they control by seizing major towns and villages along the frontier with Turkey from Islamic State. That has alarmed Ankara, which fears it will embolden the nation’s own restive Kurds.

“Turkey is doing the right thing by shelling ISIS, but for the wrong reason, and that is purely to prevent the Kurds advancing,” Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, founding president of the Middle East Research Institute, said by phone from Erbil, using another name for Islamic State. The intervention could undermine the war against Islamic State, he said, as “the Kurds have proven to be the most effective force on the ground.” – READ MORE

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