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Turkish-backed rebels clear IS from Turkey’s Syrian border -state media

A wall along the border between Turkey and Syria

By Hamdi Istanbullu and Melih Aslan

Turkish-backed rebels on Sunday cleared Islamic State fighters from Turkey’s Syrian border, securing an area in northern Syria and making a substantial advance in an incursion by Turkish forces, state media reported, making

The rebels, mainly Syrian Arabs and Turkmen fighting under the loose banner of the Free Syrian Army, took charge of the frontier after clearing out the Sunni hardline group, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

The advance took place little more than a week after Turkey launched the Syrian incursion, called Euphrates Shield, deploying tanks and air power to support the rebels, who swept into the border town of Jarablus.

On Saturday, Turkey and its rebel allies opened a new line of attack in northern Syria, rolling across the border some 55 km (34 miles) west of Jarablus.

The rebels now appear to have secured a roughly 90 km stretch of land that Turkey has long wanted to control, to keep out jihadists and to stop the advance of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Turkey is fighting a three-decade-old Kurdish insurgency in the southeast and fears that gains by the Syrian Kurdish YPG will embolden militants at home. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

While the United States and Europe also regard the PKK as a terrorist group, Washington sees the YPG as a separate entity and as its most effective partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. That position has caused friction with Turkey, a NATO member and a partner in the fight against Islamic State.

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