Turkish border with Syria cleared of ISIL militants
KİLİS - Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe Turkish border with Syria was cleared of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants on Sept. 4, after the Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA) took control of all regions from Azaz to the west to Jarablus to the east.
The news came 12 days after the Turkish army launched Operation Euphrates Shield, aimed at improving border security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the threat posed by terrorist organizations, especially ISIL.
The FSA liberated new villages on Sept. 4, a day after the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) entered Syria’s al-Rai district from the Elbeyli district in the Turkish border province of Kilis.
Syrian opposition forces removed ISIL militants from the villages of Tuwayran, Khaliliye, Bab Lemon, Hajj Wali and others in the al-Rai region.
With the new FSA-controlled belt extending three to five kilometers inside Syrian territory, ISIL’s physical contact with the Turkish border has been totally eliminated.
“From Azaz to Jarabulus, 91-km of our border has been completely secured. All terrorist organizations have been repulsed and they have gone,” Yıldırım said during a televised speech while visiting the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Ankara-backed FSA forces have started moving south to capture al-Bab from ISIL, Doğan News Agency reported Sept. 5.
On the other side of the operation, FSA fighters reached 24 kilometers south of the Turkish border inside Syria and arrived in a region west of the Euphrates River.
Meanwhile, the military has announced that FSA fighters seized control in seven more villages as a part of the operation on Sept. 5.
It added that the Turkish artillery units fired 99 shots at nine targets in the 13th day of the operation.
A total of 1,698 shots were fired at 392 targets since the beginning of the operation on Aug. 24, according to military.
On Sept. 4, FSA took control of the villages of Ganime and Suwaya, west of Jarablus, as well as al-Qadi, the last ISIL-controlled village along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Less than two weeks after Operation Euphrates Shield was launched, the Turkish proxies have taken an area totaling nearly 600 square kilometers from ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey regards as a terror organization.
The difference in the designation of the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), has caused rift between Turkey and the U.S., with the latter seeing the PYD and YPG as reliable resources on the ground in the fight against ISIL.
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk welcomed the sealing of the border.
“Welcome progress in sealing final 98-kilometer strip of Turkish border from #ISIL terrorists, who increasingly have no way out. #ISIS #Daesh,” read McGurk’s tweet posted on his personal Twitter account on Sept. 5.
The SDF alliance is led by the YPG, and recently captured the town of Manbij from ISIL, prompting alarm in Ankara and demands that Kurdish forces withdraw east of the Euphrates River.
The spokesman said McGurk pledged “ongoing U.S. support for the SDF in the fight against ISIL, while emphasizing the need for strict adherence to prior commitments,” a reference to demands for the SDF to withdraw east of the Euphrates.
“In all of his meetings, he encouraged unity of effort and de-confliction between all forces fighting ISIL in northern Syria,” the spokesman said.
McGurk also held talks last week in Turkey, the spokesman added.
“He met with senior Turkish officials to discuss U.S. support for efforts to clear ISIL entirely from the border region... and also discussed planning for the Mosul campaign in Iraq, and closer U.S. and Turkish cooperation to accelerate ISIL’s ultimate defeat,” the spokesman said.