The Turkish military hit positions of the Kurdish militia YPG in northern Iraq after one soldier was killed and three wounded in an attack on Turkish tanks.
Turkey invaded northern Syria last week in an operation directed purportedly against Islamic State forces, but it now looks as if the main intention was to attack YPG rebels and prevent them from linking their forces along the Turkish border.
This was the first casualty of the Turkish military since the launch of the operation, dubbed Euphrates River.
25 militants were killed in the operations against the YPG, according to Turkish media.
Turkey launched on August 24 a major military operation in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border seeking to cleanse its border of Islamic State militants. The operation is carried out in coordination with Syrian opposition forces fighting for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which Ankara is backing.
The YPG, the military arm of the PYD, has been the US’ closest ally in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State. Washington is also providing air cover for Turkey’s operation in northern Syria.
Turkey has been supporting Syrian opposition groups since the beginning of the civil war there but it sees the PYD as a terrorist organisation because of its links to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) that launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984.
Ankara has vowed to continue its military operations in Syria until all threats to Turkey are eliminated.
A Syrian rebel commander told Reuters that the next target of Turkish-backed forces is to capture the city of Manjib south of Jarablus from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The YPG constitutes the backbone of the SDF.
The Turkey-backed rebel force is certainly heading in the direction of Manbij since YPG forces have fortified their positions rather than evacuate, Colonel Ahmed Osman, head of the Sultan Murad rebel group, told the news agency.