After a pre-dawn barrage of heavy artillery and airstrikes, Turkey sent tanks and special forces into Syria on Wednesday to help clear a border town of Islamic State militants in Ankara’s most significant military involvement so far in the Syria conflict.
Syrian opposition fighters were also part of the cross-border incursion, which was reported by both Turkish state media and Syrian opposition activists.
Turkey said its intention was to clear the town of Jarablus, located right across the border from Turkey, from IS militants. But Turkey is also concerned about the growing power of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, who it says are linked to Kurdish groups waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
Wednesday’s operation puts Turkey on track for a confrontation with the Kurdish fighters in Syria, where the civil war is now in its sixth year.
A senior official with Syria’s largest Kurdish group suggested Turkey will pay the price. Saleh Muslim, the co-president of the Democratic Union Party or PYD, tweeted that “Turkey is in Syrian Quagmire. Will be defeated as Daesh” will be. He use the Arabic language acronym for IS.
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