Syrian Crisis: Turkish aid reaches Jarabulus after its liberation

Syrian Crisis: Turkish aid reaches Jarabulus after its liberation

Turkish aid trucks began arriving in the northern Syrian city of Jarabulus on Friday following its capture from ISIS, a security official said.

The Turkish Red Crescent started distributing food after landmines and other explosives had been cleared from the border between Karkamis in Turkey and Jarabulus.

Speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking with the media, the official told Anadolu Agency that the agency handed out supplies for 5,000 people.

The official added that the Turkish Armed Forces and aircraft from the U.S.-led international coalition were continuing operations against Daesh in the city.

Euphrates shield operation

Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks, and warplanes entered Jarablus, one of Islamic State’s last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border, on Wednesday, in Turkey’s first major U.S.-backed incursion into its southern neighbor.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that ISIS had been driven out of Jarablus and that it was now controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

But Erdogan and senior government officials have made it clear that the aim of “Operation Euphrates Shield” is as much about stopping the Kurdish YPG from seizing more territory along the border and filling the void left by ISIS as it is about eliminating the hardline group itself.

Syrian rebel and Turkish forces pressed on past Jarablus on Thursday in attempt to clear the border area of any ISIS presence.

A Syrian rebel commander in charge of one of the main groups involved in the Turkish-backed operation told Reuters the forces now aimed to move westward after taking Jarablus, an advance that could take weeks or months to complete.

Colonel Ahmad Osman, speaking to Reuters from Jarablus, said the priority was now to advance about 70 km (40 miles) west to Marea, a town where rebels have long had a frontline with Islamic State.

Turkey has long lobbied for a “buffer zone” in northern Syria controlled by what it regards as moderate rebels, potentially in border territory currently held by Islamic State and stretching about 80 km (50 miles) west of Jarablus.

Sweeping out Islamic State would deprive the group of a smuggling route taken by foreign fighters joining its ranks, and could also create a safe area for displaced civilians and help to stem the flow of refugees, Turkish officials have said.