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Iran Press TV

Damascus slams Turkey's military 'aggression' into Syrian territory

Iran Press TV

Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:9PM

Syria has denounced Turkey's recent military incursion into the Syrian territory, backed by the US-led coalition, saying the offensive violates the Arab country's sovereignty.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey's military operation in a statement released on Wednesday, Syrian media reported.

The ministry called for an immediate end to the Turkish "aggression," adding that the operation is being carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

"Any party conducting a battle against terrorism on Syrian soil must do so in coordination with the Syrian government and the Syrian army," the statement read, adding, "Chasing out Daesh and replacing them with terrorist groups backed by Turkey is not fighting terrorism."

The reaction came hours after Turkish special forces, tanks and jets backed by planes from the US-led coalition launched their first coordinated offensive in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation in northern Syria was launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning "against terror groups" such as Daesh and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - a US-backed Kurdish group based in Syria - that "constantly threaten" Turkey.

The epicenter of the military action, dubbed "Euphrates Shield," is the Syrian border town of Jarablus, from where Ankara says militants have fired rockets into Turkey.

'Road to solving terror'

In a speech in Ankara on Wednesday, Erdogan said, "The road to solving the terror problem passes through a solution to problems in Syria and in Iraq.... Turkey will overcome threats originating from Syria."

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusgolu also defended the operation, claiming that it would be a turning point in the fight against Daesh and would accelerate the removal of the terrorists from Syria's northern Aleppo region.

"We don't need to fight against mosquitoes, our aim is to eradicate the swamp and remove threats against Turkey," he said on his Twitter account.

Turkish forces advance in Syria

Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported that the Turkish-backed Syria militants captured the village of Keklijah, five kilometers (three miles) west of Jarablus and three kilometers (two miles) from the border.

The so-called Free Syrian Army militants further took the village of Keklice, the report added.

Meanwhile, the Dogan news agency cited military sources as saying that Turkey-backed Syrian militants had seized control of four villages in northern Syria.

A total of 46 Daesh elements have so far been killed in the Jarablus operation so far, the agency added.

According to Turkish media reports, there are now some 1,500 pro-Ankara Syria militants in Jarablus.

Pro-Turkish militants in full control of Jarablus

Later on Wednesday, Turkish state media reported that the pro-Turkish Syria militants have gained full control of the Syrian town of Jarablus.

"Jarabulus is completely liberated," Ahmad Othman, a militant commander in Syria, was quoted by AFP as saying.

Additionally, an unnamed commander with The Faylaq al-Sham terrorist group, said that most of the Daesh elements in Jarablus had pulled out, some of them surrendering.

Daesh terrorists "have withdrawn from several villages on the outskirts of Jarablus and are heading south towards the city of al-Bab," the commander said.

Another unidentified militant commander estimated that up to 50 percent of the city was now under the control of the Turkish-backed militants.

Russia concerned about Turkey action

Also on Wednesday, Russia expressed concern about the Turkish military operation in Syria, warning that the move will increase tensions there.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Moscow is "deeply concerned" about developments on the Syrian-Turkish border area, noting that Turkey's offensive risks "further degeneration of the situation in the conflict zone."

The Turkish military incursion into Syria could lead to deaths among civilians and "flare-ups of inter-ethnic tensions" in the region, the statement added.

Moscow urged dialogue among all ethnic groups, including the Kurds, in Syria, stressing that the crisis in the Arab country can be resolved solely on the basis of international law.

Kurds say Turkey entering a 'quagmire' in Syria

Meanwhile, PYD head, Saleh Muslim, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday that Turkey was entering a "quagmire" in Syria and faced defeat there like Daesh.

Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a militia affiliated to the PYD, also said that the intervention was a "blatant aggression in Syrian internal affairs."

US assists Turkey in the Syria incursion

A senior US official said on Wednesday that the US is providing Turkey's military with air support, intelligence and advisers in its offensive inside Syria.

"We want to help the Turks get ISIL (Daesh) off the [Syrian-Turkish] border," the official claimed.

Syria has been the scene of a foreign-backed crisis since March 2011. Turkey is said to be among the main supporters of the militant groups active in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri elements there and facilitates their safe passage into the violence-wracked state.

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