Ankara, Beirut, Moscow- Syrian opposition forces announced Wednesday they had almost completely controlled the city of Jarablus after ISIS members were pushed out of the city.
The announcement came after Turkish forces, tanks and jets backed by planes from the international coalition launched their first offensive into Syria on Wednesday to drive ISIS from the border and prevent further gains by Kurdish fighters.
Military sources said that Turkish forces sent reinforcements to secure borders and support the opposition in the city of Ghazi Intab.
“Operation Euphrates Shield” is Turkey’s first direct interference in the military operations in Syria.
Turkey said that the military operation targets all terrorist organisations, in a hint that it might also target the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which seek to form their own Kurdish federal state on the Turkish borders.
Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds looked at Turkey’s decision to publicly send its forces to Syria for the first time since the start of the war, as a direct message targeting them, after Kurds were about to link the areas located east the Euphrates River with the village of Afreen, and therefore, announce the creation of their own federal state.
A Syrian Kurdish official had even said the Turkish intervention was “an announcement of war against Syrian Kurds.”
The recent development came at a time when Moscow was cautious in announcing its position regarding the situation in Jarablus.
Russia had only issued an official statement late on Wednesday through its Foreign Ministry. “Moscow was deeply worried by the escalation of tension on the Turkish-Syria border after Ankara sent military forces into Syrian territory,” the statement said. It added there was a possibility that the situation in the warring area would further deteriorate, leaving victims among civilians and escalate the dispute between Kurds and Arabs.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency published photos on Wednesday of opposition fighters entering the village of Hojailiya, without any resistance from ISIS fighters. The forces had secured the surroundings of the village, which would be used as a base from where they would enter the center of Jarablus.
Ahead of the opposition attack, Turkey’s Special Forces had infiltrated inside Jarablus while the Turkish army was fiercely raiding the city.
Three members of the Free Syrian Army were transferred to the city of Ghazi Intab for treatment after they were injured during the military operations. A national who has family members inside Jarablus told CNN Turk in a telephone conversation that ISIS members were retreating from the city.
The channel said smoke billowed from Jarablus, confirming that Turkish tanks attacking the city were located 10 kilometers away from the south.
Turkish military sources said Operation Euphrates had targeted 82 positions. The operation began at 4 a.m. (01:00 GMT) local time on Wednesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation has started in the north of Syria against terror groups, which constantly threaten Turkey, similar to ISIS and the PYD.