Anti-ISIL fight heats up on Turkey-Syria border
DHA photoU.S.-led coalition warplanes hit Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in northern Syria near the Turkish border province of Kilis on April 14 after recent advances by the jihadist group and shelling from the region claimed lives on the Turkish side.
Coalition warplanes targeted ISIL positions in the villages of Savran, Soran, Havar and Kefre in northern Syria at around 6:30 a.m.
Rising smoke was visible from the Turkish side.
The Turkish military also shelled ISIL positions in the region after rocket projectiles landed in Kilis.
The tension has been high in the region, as rocket projectiles fired from Syria landed in Kilis for three consecutive days. A total of 12 people were wounded on April 11, while two people were killed and six were wounded on April 12.
Katyusha rockets fired from Syria also fell into an empty field on April 13.
The shelling caused widespread panic and anger among Kilis locals, who demanded security measures from the governor’s office.
Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Agency (MİT) head Hakan Fidan carried out inspections in Kilis on April 13. The minister said 362 ISIL militants had been killed in cross-border fire.
Security measures have been raised to their highest along the border.
In recent weeks, battles have been intensifying between ISIL and other rebel groups near the border strip, which both sides use to transport fighters and weapons.
ISIL seized a string of opposition-held villages in Aleppo province near the Turkish border, a monitoring group said April 14.
“Fierce clashes are raging between rebels and ISIL after the jihadists secured an advance and seized control of six villages near the Turkish border,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) told AFP.
Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), a rebel group, started a counter-attack to regain the villages from ISIL and took two villages back. The commander of a rebel group, which is a part of Jaish al-Fatah, Muntasır Billah Brigade Commander Firas Paşa said the group was advancing to take another village back, Doğan News Agency reported. Clashes between ISIL and the rebel group were continuing intermittently in the region.
Syria’s main opposition group is willing to share membership of a transitional governing body with current members of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, but not with al-Assad himself, the group’s spokesman told Reuters in Geneva.
“There are many people on the other side who we can really deal with,” Salim al-Muslat, the spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, said on the second day of a round of U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva.
A U.N. resolution governing the talks says the transitional governing body will have full executive powers, and Muslat said the body would call for a national conference which would in turn form a constitutional committee.
The HNC was willing to take less than half of the seats on the transitional body, as long as it satisfied Syrians and brought a political solution, he said. “Even if we only take 25 percent, believe me, 100 percent would be the Syrian people.”
Meanwhile, Syria’s army backed by Russian jets launched a fierce new assault on areas north of Aleppo on April 14, rebels and the SOHR said, threatening to block rebels’ access to rebel-held areas of the city.