ANF News reported late Tuesday night Turkish troops and military equipment crossed the border and entered Syria through the town of Jarablus.
An unconfirmed report added that Turkey has moved a thousand soldiers to the Syrian side of the border.
Local sources reported the movement and said “that ISIS gangs in the area were all unresponsive to the activity of Turkish soldiers, and just watched them as they moved.”
In December Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised to eject the Islamic State from Jarablus.
Erdoğan and the Turks, however, are more concerned about Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) entering the area in order to fight IS. Ankara has declared a red line west of the Euphrates River and warned the YPG not to cross it or face a military response.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization. Turkish forces launched an offensive against the Kurds in October and attacked the strategic towns of Kobani and Tal Abyad in Syria along Turkey’s border.
While the PKK and YPG are fighting against ISIS, Turkish troops are killing innocent civilians with the help of NATO pic.twitter.com/dc7n9kzd4t
— Stand With Kurdistan (@StandWKurdistan) January 18, 2016
The Kurdish YPG has fought the Islamic State since 2013 when the terrorist organization attacked Kobani (also known as Ayn al-Arab) where the YPG is headquartered.
In late December the YPG defeated IS at the Tishreen Dam south of Jarablus. “This could well constitute the greatest victory the YPG have had over ISIS since they forced them out of the northeastern border town of Gire Spi (Tal Abyad) over the summer and subsequently closed-off all of the northeastern border to them,” the Kurdish media group Rudaw reported on December 31.
Also on Tuesday Turkish army troops shelled the YPG headquarters in Tel Abyad, located north of Raqqa province. Raqqa is the de facto capital of the Islamic State.
Turkey proves itself de facto ISIS ally by bombing YPG (main opponents of ISIS) headquarters in Rojava, Syria https://t.co/7tTQeDk69Y
— Neil Cotter (@NeilCotter) January 19, 2016
Turkey was angered by the US providing air support to the YPG during the advance on Gire Spi. The US Defense Department said it conducted eleven air strikes against IS positions around the town.
On January 6 the Turkish army expressed concern to Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the presence of Kurds in the Azaz-Jarablus corridor of Syria. At the time Dunford was holding talks with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The movement of troops on Tuesday appears to be an effort by Turkey to push the Kurds out of Jarablus and the surrounding countryside under the cover of fighting the Islamic State.
Turkish support for the Islamic State is well documented. In November the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said Turkey has long supported the terror group. He accused Ankara of funneling ISIS terrorists through Turkey and buying oil stolen from IS and selling it on the black market.
Around the same time a senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained last summer from a major raid on an Islamic State safehouse told The Guardian “that Turkey, a longstanding member of NATO, is not just supporting ISIS, but also other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria,” writes Nafeez Ahmed.