Middle East

Syrian war: Turkey suffers first death in cross-border campaign

Turkish military vehicles return from the Syrian border Image copyright AP
Image caption The Turkish offensive is aimed at both so-called Islamic State and Kurdish rebels

Turkey has suffered its first loss of life in an intensifying campaign in northern Syria, the military says.

A soldier was killed when Kurdish fighters fired on tanks. Kurdish media say three tanks were destroyed.

Turkish armour crossed the border earlier this week in an operation aimed at so-called Islamic State but also at Kurdish forces in the area.

Elsewhere in Syria activists say at least 15 people were killed in a barrel bomb attack in Aleppo.

Saturday saw clashes between Turkish tanks and Kurdish forces near Jarablus, a border town Turkey helped Syrian rebels recapture from IS on Wednesday.

Turkish planes bombarded positions south of the town, in what one group allied with Kurdish rebels called a "dangerous escalation".

Three other soldiers were wounded in the clash with Kurdish fighters.

Turkey has vowed to continue the campaign until there is no longer a "terror" threat from its neighbour, likely to refer both to IS and to the Kurds.

It fears Kurdish fighters gaining an unbroken strip of territory along its border, which would be a huge boost to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a banned Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy in Turkey.

The Turkish move further complicates the already protracted Syrian civil war. Both Turkey and Kurdish rebels are US allies.

In another development, a police checkpoint near the airport at Turkey's south-eastern city of Diyarbakir came under rocket fire on Saturday evening. No casualties or disruption to flights were reported.

Barrel bombs hit mourners

Two barrel bombs struck minutes apart in a rebel-held part of Aleppo city, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group.

The first struck crowds mourning child victims of a similar attack earlier this week, while the second hit crowds that had gathered after the first bombing, the monitors said.

The UN's Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has urged the warring sides in Aleppo to approve safe delivery of vital supplies by Sunday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Syrians evacuated from a besieged town arrive in a government area
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rebels are travelling to opposition-controlled Idlib

Also on Saturday, the Syrian government said it had retaken control of the town of Darayya, near the capital Damascus, after the last rebels left under a deal ending a four-year siege.

Thousands of civilians have also left under the agreement, having endured years of constant shelling and shortages of essentials.

One of those transferred to a government-held town was a four-year-old boy named Yazan.

There, he enjoyed ice cream for the first time after knowing nothing else but life under siege.

"He's never tasted sweets before," his mother told the AFP news agency. "He was over the moon when he saw biscuits."