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Turkey opens second front in Syria

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By Catherine Hardy
Turkey opens second front in Syria

Ankara has opened a new front against ISIL in northern Syria, according to media reports.

The Dogan news agency says Turkish tanks crossed the border from Kilis province on Saturday.

It is Turkey’s second incursion into the north of the conflict-torn country, the agency says.

What happened?

The tanks crossed the frontier near the Turkish village of Cobanbey.

Eyewitnesses report the sound of explosions and plumes of smoke rising in the air.

Cobanbey is near Syria’s al Rai, which has changed hands between ISIL and rebel control in recent months.

The region is around 55 kilometres southwest of Jarablus.

Last week, Turkish-backed Syrian forces launched Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey’s first major incursion into Syria since the war started five years ago.

International reaction

The US has voiced concerns about Turkish strikes on Kurdish-aligned groups that Washington is backing in its battle against ISIL.

Germany has said it does not want to see a lasting Turkish presence in an already tangled conflict.

What has Turkey said?

Turkey says it wants to protect its frontier from the militant group and the Kurdish YPG militia.

Ankara sees the group as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK group fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil.

Turkey says it has no plans to stay in Syria.