Top soldier visits border troops as jets hit ISIL
AA photoTurkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar visited Kilis on the border with Syria on Nov. 23, as Turkey hit 17 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets as part of Ankara’s Euphrates Shield Operation.
Three Turkish soldiers were slightly hurt following an ISIL attack during the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) operations near Aleppo province’s al-Bab city in Syria, a hospital source said, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
After landing at Gaziantep Airport in the early hours of the morning, Akar, accompanied by Land Forces Commander Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak, headed to Kilis by helicopter.
Akar first visited Kilis Gov. İsmail Çataklı at the governor’s office, in a meeting that lasted around 50 minutes.
He later headed to the Elbeyli district along the border with Syria to conduct inspections of troops on the border. He was also briefed on the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria which is in its 92nd day.
Tight security measures were taken for the general’s visit.
Akar, accompanied by force commanders, last visited the border on Nov. 10, in Şırnak.
The general’s visit came after the Turkish Army announced in a statement that the Turkish Armed Forces had hit 17 ISIL targets, including four shelters and two command-and-control centers, in northern Syria on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23.
FSA special task force soldiers, backed by Turkey, continued land-based attacks to control areas east and west of the city of al-Bab, the military said.
The moves are part of Euphrates Shield Operation, which began in late August to rid Syria’s northern border area of militants.
Over 215 residential areas, including more than 1,800 square kilometers of land in northern Syria, have been cleared of ISIL terrorists so far under the operation.
The three injured Turkish soldiers were taken to a state hospital in Kilis, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Countries backing Syrian moderates to meet in Paris: France
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Nov. 23 that countries who back the moderate Syrian opposition, including the United States, Turkey and Gulf nations, would meet in Paris in early December.
Ayrault said he had invited “countries who are friends of Syrian democracy and of the democratic Syrian opposition” to the French capital.
He said the international community “must stop averting its gaze” from the “terrible reality” of what was happening in Syria, especially in the besieged city of Aleppo.
“It is urgent that we react,” Ayrault added.
The minister said the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Turkey would attend, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Syrian pro-government forces are currently pushing into Aleppo as the regime attempts to recapture the entire city.
Government forces have pounded the area with air strikes and barrel bombs as ground troops advance, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
This call came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the “normalization” of the situation in Aleppo on Nov. 22, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It did not elaborate about the “task of normalization.” It said they also discussed by telephone the need for the start of inter-Syria peace talks without preliminary conditions.
A U.N. aid convoy carrying food, water and other basic supplies on Nov. 22 was able to cross frontlines in Syria to reach a rebel-held city, the first cross-line delivery this month, a U.N. spokesman said.
The food and other assistance will help 107,500 Syrians living in Rastan and nearby villages in the Homs region of western Syria, which has not received any aid since July.