08/25/2016, 10.30
SYRIA - TURKEY
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Rebels and Turkish army wrest Jarablus from Islamic State

Ankara sends tanks, warplanes and military vehicles to support the rebel offensive. Fundamental also the US air cover. Biden in Ankara to boost the alliance between Turkey and the United States. But still the unresolved issue of extradition of Islamic leader Fetullah Gulen.

Jarablus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian rebels, with the support of the Turkish military and air cover from US fighter jets, have wrested the city of Jarablus, near the Turkish-Syrian border from the Islamic State (IS) .

The final assault began at dawn yesterday, when warplanes, tanks and Ankara's special forces have crossed the border and hit Daesh positions [Arabic acronym for the SI] (and Kurdish). Most jihadists withdrew from the area.

Turkey claims that its operation targeted IS militants and the alliance between Kurds and Syrians who are trying to win over increasingly large portions of land in the area Jarablus.

Commenting on the military operation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the rebels have recaptured the city "along with people of Jarablus". The Turkish leader added that "Euphrates Shield" operation aims to "put an end" to the problems along the border.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is on a diplomatic mission in Ankara, has confirmed that the United States has guaranteed air support to the operation. He is the highest American official to visit Turkey since the failed coup of July 15, with the aim of dispelling any doubts on the links and solidarity between the Nato ally and Washington.

An activist linked to rebel groups, Ahmad al-Khatib, has published some pictures that portray fighters of the anti-Assad front in the center of the city, posing next to buildings with the effigy of the IS. With the Jarablus defeat, the self-styled jihadist Caliphate has lost control of the last border point with Turkey under their direct control.

The Turkish military operations across the border in Syria not only aim to target IS militants. An anonymous source in the US government claims Ankara intends to create "a buffer zone to block the advance of the Kurds". In recent days, Kurdish YGP militias (People's Protection Units) had defeated the IS in the city of Manbij, taking control of the area.

The Turks fear the advance of the Kurds on Syrian territory which could favor the creation of a Kurdish autonomous region. They believe this would ultimately also affect the area south-east of the country. In response to the Turkish offensive in Jarablus, Kurdish military leaders say that even now Turkey is involved in all effects "in the Syrian quagmire" and that they will soon be defeated as were the IS.

Meanwhile, the US Vice-President Biden arrived in Turkey to revive the alliance with Ankara at historic lows after the coup in mid July and Erdogan's visit to Russia, which relaunched the economic and energy relations between the two countries.

Ahead of the visit Turkish President Erdogan announced that once again he ask the American counterpart for the extradition of the Islamic leader Fetullah Gulen, considered the mastermind of the attempted coup. On being asked about this Biden said that Washington "has no interest in protecting someone who has done wrong, but we must first guarantee the minimum legal standards according to our laws."

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