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Turkish-backed Syrian rebels seize villages from Kurdish-led forces


Smoke and chaos

The reported attack came a day after Turkey suffered its first death since it launched its first ground offensive inside Syria on Wednesday, backing up rebels who recaptured Jarabulus from the Islamic State terrorist militia.

The Observatory said the bombardment targeted an area south of the former ISIL, also known as ISIS, stronghold of Jarablus, which Turkish-led forces captured on the first day of the incursion.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported that 20 civilians were killed and 50 wounded in Turkish artillery shelling and air strikes, calling it Turkish “encroachment” on Syrian sovereignty under the pretext of fighting Isis.

The toll was confirmed by a Turkish official, without giving further details. Tawil said: “Our battle targets three main parties: ISIS, the Syrian regime and forces from the Democratic Union Party”.

Ankara has long accused the YPG, or the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, of being linked to Kurdish fighters in its own southeast.

Turkey’s offensive into Syria began on Wednesday, supporting its rebel allies with Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes.

A Turkish soldier was killed and three others were injured in a rocket attack by the USA -sponsored YPG terror group, launched against two Turkish tanks taking part in the military offensive against DAESH in the northern Syrian town of Jarablus.

The media office of the Turkish-backed Nour el-din el-Zinki rebel group said the Syrian rebels were backed by Turkish tanks. “There isn’t a single armed man there”, the source said of the insurgents, speaking on condition of anonymity. Turkish forces had responded with artillery, it said.

The operation was carried out under the name “Shield of the Euphrates”.

Two Turkish F-16 fighter jets reportedly hit sites controlled by Kurdish YPG militia on Saturday. The initial goal of the operation was to clear Jarablus, along the Syria-Turkey border, of Islamic State positions and mop up any fighters that escaped Manbij, which is approximately 20 miles further south.

Turkey fiercely opposes moves by the YPG – which it regards as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) – to expand into territory lost by IS.

Kurdish fighters have been expelled from several towns and villages, according to the rebels, as part of an escalating campaign by Ankara.

The US supports the Syrian Kurdish fighters as an effective adversary of IS in the area.

Some 280 rebels, their families and wounded arrived Saturday morning in a village in the northern rebel-held Idlib province.

Syria state TV is reporting that the evacuation of the Damascus suburb of Daraya following a deal to end a four-year siege and a grueling bombing campaign has been completed. The government denies it uses barrel bombs.

The roughly 8,000 civilians left in the town are also to be evacuated.