Turkish soldier, 2 Syrian rebels killed fighting IS in Syria
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Turkish soldier, 2 Syrian rebels killed fighting IS in Syria

Latest incident brings servicemen death toll to 11 since Turkey began operation to remove Islamic State from its border

Turkish army tanks and armored personnel carriers move toward the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, August 25, 2016 (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal, File)
Turkish army tanks and armored personnel carriers move toward the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, August 25, 2016 (AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal, File)

Turkish military officials said Wednesday that two Syrian opposition fighters and a Turkish soldier were killed in clashes with Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

The officials said that the two rebels were killed in battles southwest of the town of al-Rai, during which the Turkish-backed opposition forces took control of four residential areas: Turkmen Bari, Kuaybah, Boztepe and Hardanah.

The Turkish military officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Separately, a Turkish soldier was killed and three others were slightly wounded in fighting in the opposition-held area of Ziyara, which a group of IS militants tried to infiltrate, the official Anadolu news agency said, quoting the Turkish armed forces.

Some 18 IS “terrorists” were “neutralized,” Anadolu said.

The latest death raises to 11 the number of Turkish soldiers killed since Ankara began its operation on August 24 to remove IS elements from its border.

Most were killed by IS but one soldier was killed in an attack blamed on the Kurdish People’s Protection Militia (YPG).

Smokes billows on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border as Turkey's military and US-backed coalition forces launched an operation to clear a Syrian border town from Islamic State, August 24, 2016. Photo DHA via AP
Smokes billows on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border as Turkey’s military and US-backed coalition forces launched an operation to clear a Syrian border town from Islamic State, August 24, 2016. Photo DHA via AP

Ankara has sent dozens of tanks and artillery pieces, and hundreds of troops, into northern Syria to help Syrian rebels recapture territory lost to IS and halt the westward advance of the YPG.

Turkey sees the YPG as a “terrorist” group linked to Kurdish separatists waging a 30-year insurgency in its restive southeast.

Coalition airstrikes have also supported the Ankara-backed rebels.

Over the weekend, Ankara extended its current mandate for a year to allow military action in Syria and Iraq against IS and other groups that Turkey says are terrorist organizations.

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