MIDDLE EAST

Turkish army strikes ISIS convoy in Syria

Rebel fighters stand guard at a former base used by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after they captured it from the ISIL in al-Dana town in Idlib province January 9, 2014. (Reuters)

The Turkish armed forces opened fire on the convoy of an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group’s vehicles in Syria in retaliation for cross-border fire on Tuesday, destroying three vehicles, Turkish media said on Wednesday.

“A pick-up, a truck and a bus in an ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) convoy were destroyed,” Agence France-Presse quoted published by Turkish media.

There were no casualties on the Turkish side.

The army said the attack, carried out Tuesday, came after two Turkish military vehicles had been fired upon at the Cobanbey border post in the south of the country.

The Turkish military targeted ISIS positions in northern Syria after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory during clashes between ISIS and the rebel Free Syrian Army, Reuters reported broadcaster NTV as saying.

The incident is considered to be the first pitting Turkey against ISIS which has been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad as well as fellow rebel groups in the north of the country since January.

Al-Qaeda in Turkey?

The Turkish military action also comes after Israel’s military intelligence chief said some of the al-Qaeda militants fighting in Syria have set up bases in Turkey, where they can also easily access Europe.

Al-Qaeda fighters from around the world enter Syria weekly, but they “do not stay there,” Major-General Aviv Kochavi told a security conference, while presenting a map of the Middle East marking areas with an al-Qaeda presence. According to the map, there are three al-Qaeda bases in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly denied his country was providing shelter for groups linked to al-Qaeda in Syria. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman did not have an immediate comment on the topic, reported Reuters.

Turkey, a fierce opponent of Assad’s regime, has been accused of supplying arms to several rebel groups fighting to topple him since March 2011. Ankara has categorically denied the accusation.

The Turkish army has fired into northern Syria several times in retaliation for shelling on Turkish villages.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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Last Update: Thursday, 30 January 2014 KSA 12:25 - GMT 09:25
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Turkish army strikes ISIS convoy in Syria
The military attacked a convoy belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked ISIS rebels in Syria in response to cross-border fire
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