Turkey launches new artillery strikes on IS in Syria

Turkish armed forces on Saturday launched artillery strikes on positions of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, reports said.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 02, 2016, 19:26 PM IST

Istanbul: Turkish armed forces on Saturday launched artillery strikes on positions of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, reports said.

Turkish artillery fired shells from howitzers positioned in its border region of Kilis against IS targets in settlements around the town of Azaz in northern Syria, the Dogan news agency said.

A fragile ceasefire backed by Turkey has taken effect in Syria, but the deal does not apply to territory held by the IS group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

This was the the first time there had been reports of Turkey striking IS in Syria since early March.

The report said the artillery strikes were carried out following air raids in the same region by the US-led coalition against IS.

Security in the Turkish border region -- which has on occasion been hit by deadly IS shelling from Syria -- has been stepped up as a result, it added.

From mid-February, Turkish artillery had also on successive days shelled targets of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) inside Syria, with the military saying it was responding to incoming fire.

But Turkey has not shelled any positions held by Syrian Kurdish fighters inside Syria since the ceasefire was implemented from February 27.

Washington had urged Ankara to halt its fire on the PYD and its People`s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

The issue of the Syrian Kurds had caused a rare rift between Ankara and Washington, which regards the YPG as the most effective fighting force on the ground against IS and wants Turkey to focus on the fight against jihadists.

Washington has applauded Turkey`s role in the anti-IS coalition but US officials on occasion have urged Ankara to do more.