A Turkish soldier has been killed while fighting Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria, state media said on Saturday, the latest casualty in an increasingly dangerous three-month campaign. Three soldiers were wounded in the attack and have been taken to hospital in the Turkish border town of Kilis, the Anadolu news agency said, without giving further details.
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Eighteen Turkish soldiers have been killed since the military began an unprecedented operation inside Syria on August 24 to back pro-Ankara rebels.
Six soldiers have been killed this week alone, including four by an air strike the army said it believed was carried out by forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey launched the operation in August — dubbed “Euphrates Shield” — in support of Syrian rebel fighters seeking to retake IS-held territory in northern Syria and also to halt the advance of Kurdish militia.
Since it began, the pro-Ankara rebels have captured the IS stronghold of Jarabulus, cleared IS from Al Rai and retaken the symbolically important town of Dabiq without much resistance.
With Turkish support, they are now pressing to take Al Bab from the jihadists in an advance that appears to be taking more time and encountering greater opposition.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the purported deadly Syrian air strike in telephone talks yesterday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Assad’s main ally.