The Latest: Turkey-backed Syria rebels take 10 more villages


August 29, 2016 8:16PM (UTC)

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments in the Syrian civil war (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

The Turkish military says Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have cleared 10 more villages of "terrorist entities" and are now in control of an area totaling some 400 square kilometers (154.44 sq. miles) south and west of the northern Syrian town of Jarablus.

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Turkey sent tanks rolling across the border last week to help the Syrian opposition forces seize Jarablus from the Islamic State group. The move was also aimed at halting advances by the Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkish military officials said in an emailed statement on Monday that the Syrian opposition forces were continuing with their operations to clear IS-controlled areas by moving west of zone under their control.

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6:55 p.m.

The Syrian government has condemned what it calls "repetitive breaches, aggression and massacres" committed by Turkey against the Syrian people in the country's north.

In two messages sent on Monday to the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-moon, and the resident of the U.N. Security Council, Syria's Foreign Ministry accused Turkey of committing "full-fledged crimes against humanity."

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Turkey last week sent troops and tanks into northern Syria to help Syrian rebels seize the town of Jarablus from the Islamic State group, and have since been fighting Kurdish Syrian forces around the town in an effort to halt their advance across northern Syria.

Syrian opposition activists have said that at least 35 civilians were killed in the Turkish-led operation so far. Turkey denied any civilians had been hit.

Syria's government has condemned the Turkish incursion but has stayed out of the conflict.

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5:30 p.m.

The Pentagon is calling on NATO ally Turkey, as well U.S.-backed fighters aligned against the Islamic State, to stop fighting each other in northern Syria.

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In a written statement on Monday, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook called the clashes south of the Euphrates River town of Jarablus "unacceptable" and a source of "deep concern."

He says the U.S. doesn't support reported Turkish airstrikes and artillery shelling of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters — or Kurdish attacks on Turkish troops — in areas where Islamic State fighters no longer are operating.

The United States has called on the Syrian Kurds to pull back to the east side of the Euphrates, in accordance with U.S. assurances given to the Turks, and Cook said this pullback has "largely occurred."

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5 p.m.

The International Red Cross says 19 trucks carrying aid have entered a hard-to-reach area north of the central Syrian city of Homs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Monday's delivery is the second time that the international aid group is entering the area since 2015.

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The ICRC says the trucks are bringing to Dar al-Kabira aid for 33,500 people, including food parcels, toiletries and medical items, as well as materials to repair the existing boreholes and the water network.

It said 6,700 food parcels, 200 delivery kits for pregnant women in addition to wheat flour, primary health care drugs and other medical items arrived Monday.

The Dar al-Kabira is a hard-to-reach area just north of Homs.

Hundreds of thousands of people are either in besieged or hard to reach areas throughout Syria.

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4:40 p.m.

Kurdish-backed forces in northern Syria say they will withdraw south from their current positions in order not to put the lives of civilians in danger, following attacks by Turkey-backed Syrian rebels.

Monday's announcement by the Jarablus Military Council, which is part of the predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces, came hours after Turkey's foreign minister ordered Kurdish Syrian forces to withdraw east of the Euphrates River "immediately" or face more strikes.

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The move is not likely to please the Turks who are demanding a full withdrawal from all areas west of the Euphrates.

The council says its fighters will withdraw to areas south of the Sajour River, a tributary of the Euphrates.

They said they will withdraw in order for the rebels not to "have any justification to continue shelling civilians."

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2 p.m.

Turkey has ordered predominantly Kurdish Syrian militants to withdraw east of the Euphrates river "immediately" or face more strikes by Turkish forces that crossed the border last week.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke Monday, as Syrian opposition groups reported that Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have captured more towns and villages in northern Syria.

Turkish tanks rolled across the border last week to help Syrian rebels seize the town of Jarablus from the Islamic State group, a move that was also aimed at deterring further advances by Kurdish-led forces.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the rebels have captured 21 towns and villages near Jarablus from the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist collective, says the rebels captured seven more villages since late Sunday.





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