ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Cross-border shelling by the Turkish army and air strikes by U.S.-led coalition aircraft killed 14 Islamic State militants in Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency cited Turkey’s military as saying on Saturday.
Eleven Islamic State targets were hit by Turkish artillery and by nine air strikes as they were believed to be preparing to fire on Turkey, the armed forces was reported as saying. It was not clear when the military action occurred.
The strikes targeted several areas near the Syrian town of Azaz, west of a U.S.-backed operation against IS militants and directly south of the Turkish border town of Kilis, which has been repeatedly hit by Islamic State rockets.
Thousands of Syrian rebels supported by a small U.S. special operations team launched a major offensive on Tuesday to drive Islamic State from the “Manbij pocket”, further east near the Turkish border, which Islamic State has used as a logistics hub.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the U.S.-backed offensive was largely being carried out by Arab rather than Kurdish fighters, in a sign of tacit approval for the operation. [nL8N18U3OM]
The Syria Democratic Forces alliance includes the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey’s southeast.
Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Hugh Lawson
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