For the first time since Turkey declared it had launched a military campaign to create an “ISIS-free zone” in Syria following the terror attack in Suruç, Turkey, the Islamic State has initiated a new, alarmingly successful offensive near the Turkish border.
Reuters and Turkish newspaper Hurriyet report that the initiative has begun north of Aleppo, Syria, and has targeted Syrian opposition groups. ISIS has this week captured a border village, Umm Hosh, and killed dozens with four car bombs in the town of Marea, according to the watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “The situation in northern Aleppo is bad,” said one rebel fighter, referring to the province of Aleppo in which the Marea and Umm Hosh incidents occurred.
In response to the attack, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby emphasized that the White House believes Turkey is committed to fighting the Islamic State:
Everybody is focused on the ISIL threat inside Syria, and Turkey has itself said that is where the locus of its energy will be applied. We continue to have conversations with them about how best to bolster security in the region and how to achieve a common objective. We’ve also been very clear that we’re not interested in doing anything that’s going to change the territorial integrity of Syria.
Another Pentagon spokesman, Maj. James Brindle, told state-run Turkish outlet Anadolu Agency that the United State has “requested Turkey not to undertake independent counter-ISIL strikes in Syria, to ensure safe air operations for the coalition in dense airspace.” That statement follows an incident reported by Fox News yesterday in which Turkish air force officials gave American troops in Iraq only ten minutes to evacuate before an airstrike, nearly killing several American soldiers and putting in danger members of the Kurdish Iraqi Peshmerga, who were training with the American troops.