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Turkey-backed Syrian rebels killed in battle with IS

Turkey's military operations in Syria have been dubbed the "Euphrates Shield" [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 October, 2016

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Since Turkey began military operations in Syria in August it has taken control of around 1,000 square km from the Islamic State and also clashed with Kurdish YPG units
Nine Ankara-backed Syrian rebels were killed and 32 wounded on Thursday during ongoing military operations aimed at pushing the Islamic State group away from the Syrian-Turkish border.

Turkish air raids hit 18 targets in the border area, inside Syrian territory destroying 15 buildings used by IS fighters, a statement released by the Turkish army said on Friday.

Turkey began military operations inside Syria in August. Since Turkey-backed rebels engaged in a campaign dubbed the "Euphrates Shield" have taken control of around 1,000 square km of territory from IS.

Since beginning its military intervention in Syria Turkey has targeted both the Islamic State and the Kurdish YPG movement which Ankara is reluctant to see expand its control inside the war-torn country.

The YPG has risen to assert autonomy in Kurdish cantons of Syria over the course of the country's civil war and Ankara has targeted its units in cross-border artillery strikes, receiving reprimands from Washington in the process.

Confrontations with the YPG, which is backed by the United States, have led to swift rebukes from Washington and raised concerns of a conflagration of an already violent conflict involving a plethora of regional actors in addition to the US and Russia.

Last week Turkey’s parliament approved a one-year extension to an existing mandate to deploy Turkish army personnel in Syria and Iraq.

The mandate - originally approved by parliament in October 2014 and first extended in September 2015 - permits Turkish military action against the IS and other groups deemed by Ankara to be terrorists such as the Syrian Kurdish political group the Popular Protection Units (YPG).

Speaking on Saturday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lauded Turkey's military intervention in the Syrian town of Jarablus, formerly controlled by IS, claiming that since militants from the extremist group were forced to flee from the area, the town's population had expanded from 2,000 to 40,000.

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