minbij.jpg
Photograph: Google maps

Kurdish-led forces who recently captured the northern Syrian city of Minbij from Islamic State jihadists said Monday they had come under artillery shelling from the Turkish military.

Turkish artillery shelled defensive positions of the Minbij Military Council 20 kilometres from the border, in an area where they had recently clashed with Islamic State militants, council spokesman Shervan Darwish told dpa.

The alleged shelling came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu said the border area must be "cleansed" of Islamic State.

The Kurdish-led Democratic Forces of Syria (DFS), which includes the Minbij Military Council, have expelled Islamic State from much of northern Syria with the backing of US-led airstrikes.

They say they have now established defensive lines along the Sajur river, south of Jarabulus, the last major town on the border held by Islamic State.

Syrian rebel factions are meanwhile planning to launch an attack on Jarabulus from Turkish soil with the backing of Ankara, two fighters told dpa on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At the weekend, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Ankara would be "more active" in Syria in the coming six months, without specifying plans.

The two rebel fighters, one from the Islamic Jabhat al-Shamiya and one from the Hamza Brigades, said the US does not support the latest operation, planned by Turkey.

In the past, Turkey, which lets some rebel factions operate in the south of the country, has moved fighters from one part of northern Syria to another to launch attacks, crossing through Turkish soil.

The offensive risks upping long-standing tensions between the rebels and the Kurdish-led DFS. The Jarablus Military Council, a group seen as close to the DFS, called on the United States to prevent a Turkish-led intervention.

The developments come two days ahead of an expected visit to Ankara by US Vice President Joe Biden.

The US has been wary of some hardline factions which Turkey supports, though it has backed some Islamist groups during the course of the five-year civil war.

Turkey, for its part, has complained repeatedly about the Kurdish fighters advancing against Islamic State, insisting it would not tolerate the Kurdish YPG militia - the main element of the DFS - gaining ground inside Syria along the border.

Ankara is concerned by the YPG's link to Kurdish fighters inside Turkey but says it has received assurances from the US that YPG forces would withdraw from Minbij after it had been captured, leaving the town in the hands of local fighters.

On Saturday night, a suicide bomber killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, southern Turkey. Authorities have blamed Islamic State.

More on this story

Turkey says al-Assad starting to view Kurds as a "threat"

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday he believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is beginning to view as a "threat" Kurdish forces in the north who are backed by the United States and battling Islamic State.

Monitor: Islamic State frees Minbij civilians taken during retreat

Islamic State fighters have released most of the civilians they took with them while retreating from the northern Syrian city of Minbij, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told dpa on Saturday.

Syrian Kurdish forces declare Minbij "liberated" from Islamic State

Syrian Kurdish-led forces, backed by US airstrikes, announced Friday the "liberation" of the key northern Syrian city of Minbij, saying only mine-clearing operations are ongoing, according to a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency.

Latest news

Merkel calls for fewer EU regulations as nationalist sentiments grow

As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.

French prosecutors transfer Fillon case to investigative judge

The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation in connection with presidential candidate Francois Fillon to examine whether the employment of his wife as a parliamentary employee was a sham, the country's financial prosecutors' office said Friday.

White House bars major news outlets from press briefing

Major news organizations, which were Friday blocked by the White House from attending an informal press briefing, condemned the move just hours after President Donald Trump described parts of the media as "the enemy of the people."

Report: German intelligence spied on BBC, other foreign journalists

Germany's intelligence agency monitored foreign journalists at the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations from 1999 onwards across several countries, according to a Friday report from Der Spiegel magazine.

Classroom for Islamic religious education opened in Split

A classroom for Islamic religious education, whose equipment was financially assisted by city and county authorities, was opened in the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Ministry say no licences for export of military goods to Saudi Arabia issued in 2016

The Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Ministry on Friday issued a statement regarding media reports about export licences for military goods, stressing that in 2016 it did not issue any licences for the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia.

Croatia for preserving Bosnia's stability

Croatia on Friday supported the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), calling on its authorities to adopt decisions in institutions, after a request by BiH Presidency Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic to review a ruling which acquitted Serbia of genocide.

Mexico is not a migrant "waiting room" for US, interior minister says

Mexico will not accept undocumented immigrants from other countries whom the United States plans to deport, Mexico's interior minister said Friday.

Right-wing populist Wilders declines first Dutch election debate

Candidates from nine Dutch parties answered questions from journalists Friday at the first national radio debate of the election campaign, but the leading candidate

Bosnian Croat reps insist on channel airing programmes in Croatian

Being one of the constituent peoples, the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are entitled to a broadcaster that will air programmes in their native language, HNS BiH official Ivan Vukoja said at a news conference in Mostar on Friday.

Same-sex couples in Slovenia can marry

A Slovenian law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into force on Friday and the first civil registrar ceremony, between two women, is to take place in Maribor on Saturday, the town's Vecer daily said.

Moody's changes Agrokor's outlook to negative

The Moody's rating agency on Friday changed its outlook for the Agrokor food retailer from stable to negative, affirming its rating of B3.