Turkey hits US-backed Kurdish fighters with rockets a day after airstrikes

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Turkish soldiers sit on a tank driving to Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016. Turkey shelled Kurdish militia fighters in Syria on August 26 on the second day of a major military operation inside the country, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing in jihadist-held territory.

Turkish rockets hit US-backed Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Sheikh Issa and areas in northern Aleppo province on Friday, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

According to the rights group, nearly 100 rockets fired by Turkish forces hit the town of Sheikh Issa and other frontline areas in northern Aleppo province on Friday.

On Wednesday Turkey announced that close to 200 Kurdish militants were killed after the Turkish Air Forces launched dozens of air strikes on Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) fighters, which Turkey considers a terrorist group for their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Part of the US-backed coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkey backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and opposed the US for arming militants of the Kurdish YPG, which comprises for the most part fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US against ISIL.

The confrontation between Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL has escalated as both sides race to be the first to expel the armed group from the northern Syrian city of al-Bab.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Friday that Turkish operations in Syria aim to destroy “terrorist organizations” and secure its border, adding that all operations are discussed with coalition partners.

Turkey entered the Syrian conflict in August, using artillery and air power to help FSA rebels take ISIL-held territory near the border. It also aims to prevent YPG forces from connecting three de facto autonomous Kurdish cantons that have emerged during the five-year war to create a Kurdish-run enclave in northern Syria.

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