Turkish tanks have crossed into northern Syria from Kilis province in a new phase of operation against Kurdish-led forces.
Around 20 tanks, five armored personnel carriers, trucks and other armored vehicles on Saturday crossed the border near the Turkish village of Cobanbey, which lies across from the Syrian village of Ra’i, Turkish media reported.
The area is some 55 kilometers southwest of Jarablus, where last week Turkish-backed Syrian militants launched “Operation Euphrates Shield”, Turkey's first major incursion into Syria since the start of the foreign-backed militancy in the Arab country more than five years ago.
The reports also said that Turkish howitzers pounded alleged Daesh positions in the area as the fresh armored contingent advanced.
In response, Daesh terrorists reportedly fired three rockets into the southeastern city of Kilis.
Ambulances, police and rescue units were dispatched to the area.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria on August 24. It said the incursion was meant to engage the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the Syrian-Turkish border area as well as Kurdish fighters, who were themselves fighting Daesh.
The Turkish forces engaged the fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkish authorities say is allied with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
Hours after the beginning of the operation, Turkish-backed militants seized Jarablus.
Since then, militants have reportedly been seizing villages along the Turkish border near Jarablus and the western Cobanbey district from Daesh.
Ankara has said its military campaign is aimed at “cleansing” the region of Daesh and preventing Kurdish forces from gaining power in the ensuing void.
Iran and Russia have warned against Turkey’s military presence in Syria and called on Ankara to immediately pull out Turkish troops from the Arab country. Syria has also denounced Turkey’s military incursion as a violation of its sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkey-backed militants took control of three villages close to the border on Saturday, two on the Jarablus front and one on the new Ra’i front.
The head of the UK-based group, Rami Abdel Rahman, said that “they are trying to take control of the border area between Jarablus and Ra’i” from Daesh.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.
Ankara has been blamed for supporting militant groups that have been fighting to topple the Syrian government.