Turkish-backed rebels push south in north Syria: Turkish army
Reuters, Sep 17 2016
ANKARA – Turkish-backed rebels were pushing south in an operation in northern Syria on Friday, Turkey’s military said, and five rebels and five Daesh had been killed across the region. The Turkish military also said in a statement that Pindo SOF were supporting an operation that was being carried out between Azaz and al-Rai. Turkish-backed rebels have been battling Daesh along the border as part of operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched last month, and in recent weeks pushed the Jihadis away from the frontier with the support of Turkish warplanes and tanks.
Turkey-backed rebels could push further south in Syria, Erdogan says
Reuters, Sep 19 2016
ISTANBUL – Turkey-backed rebels may extend their zone of control in northern Syria by pushing south and were now focused on heading toward the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab, Erdogan said on Monday. Speaking at a news conference before departing for New York where he is due to address the UNGA, Erdogan said Turkey’s “safety zone” in the region could eventually span an area of 5,000 sq km. Turkey last month launched its operation in northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield”, aimed at clearing Daesh from Turkey’s Syrian border and stopping the advance of Syrian Kurdish fighters. So far, Turkey has secured a narrow strip of land along its border. Erdogan said:
As part of the Euphrates Shield operation, an area of 900 sq km has been cleared of terror so far. This area is pushing south. We may extend this area to 5,000 sq km as part of a safe zone.
Turkey has long argued for the need for a “safe zone” or a “no-fly” zone along its Syrian border, with the aim of clearing out Daesh and Kurdish fighters and of stemming a wave of immigration that has caused tension in Europe. But Western allies have so far balked at the idea, saying it would require a significant ground force and planes to patrol, marking a major commitment in such a crowded battlefield. Erdogan also said the Turkey-backed FSA were now targeting the Daesh-held town of al-Bab. He said:
Jarablus and al-Rai have been cleansed, now we are moving towards al-Bab. We will go there and stop Daesh from being a threat to us.