Syrian town of Jarabulus seized by rebels in fight against Daesh
Turkish army tanks drive to the Syrian border town of Jarabulus after launching a ground operation for the first time in Syria, on August 25, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)
Syrian rebels on Thursday said they seized the border town of Jarablus from Daesh control shortly after Turkey launched a cross-border offensive.
The Free Syrian Army militia's assault on the city began at dawn and was later aided by US airstrikes, as well as Turkish warplanes, tanks and special forces soldiers who crossed into Syria on Wednesday.
Up to 12 Turkish tanks crossed into Syria, followed by pick-up trucks believed to have held hundreds of fighters from the Free Syrian Army.
"Jarablus can now be considered fully liberated," Ahmed Othman, a commander in the Free Syrian Army, told Al Jazeera.
Militants fighting for Daesh seem to have fled southwest toward Daesh-held al-Bab, a militia spokesman told Al Jazeera.
"The attack started in the morning and we were able to take control of a number of villages near the town. After a few hours and after controlling the hills surrounding the town, ISIL (Daesh) felt the danger," the spokesman said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's military efforts in Syria target both Daesh and Kurdish militia fighters, some of which are backed by the United States.
The southern provinces of Turkey this year have faced increased rocket attacks and indiscriminate civilian bombings mainly carried out by Daesh, but also from Turkish rebels. Most recently, 54 people were killed in a Gaziantep wedding bombing where about half of the victims -- 29 -- were children. Daesh is blamed for carrying out the bombing.