Rocket fire from Syria kills teenager in Turkish border town

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A teenage girl has died after rockets were fired from northern Syria into a Turkish border town.

One other person was injured in Reyhanli in the latest in a string of rocket attacks on border towns since Turkey launched a cross-border operation to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia from Afrin, northern Syria, on January 20.

Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting an insurgency inside Turkey.

Turkey’s Anadolu Agency said Syrian Kurdish fighters in Afrin fired two rockets, hitting a house and a garden wall in the town of Reyhanli.

Two people were taken to hospital after the attack and one, 17-year-old Fatma Avlar, died from her wounds.

The attacks inside Turkey have so far killed four people, including Ms Avlar. Two of the victims were Syrian refugees.

As Turkey’s military operation in Syria continues, officials in the US-led international coalition against Islamic State warned the offensive could destabilise recent gains against the extremists along the Iraq-Syria border in the Euphrates River valley.

The top US general in Iraq said he is “very much concerned” the fight in Afrin could remove pressure on IS fighters in other parts of Syria.

US Army Lt Gen Paul Funk said: “I don’t want our partner to be distracted,” referring to the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia fighting IS in Syria.

“It’s a continual fight (against IS), certainly on the Syrian side.”

Iraqi forces declared victory over IS in December, but since the Afrin offensive began, Iraq’s border guard has reported increased IS activity and attacks along their border with Syria.

If the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces become entangled in the fighting in Afrin, that could “pull Syrian Democratic Forces out of this area”, said US Army Lt Col Brandon Payne, which would take the focus off IS and give them space to manoeuvre.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron warned Turkey against a full-scale invasion of Afrin, and appealed to his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Recep Erdogan, to respect Syria’s sovereignty.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Macron said Turkey must co-ordinate with allies, and that its operation inside Syria must be limited to fighting terror.

Mr Macron added he would talk to Mr Erdogan in the coming days to tell him that the military offensive against Afrin should involve talks “between Europeans, and more widely between allies, because it changes the nature of this Turkish incursion”.

The French leader added: “If it turned out that this operation had to take another turn than an action to fight against a potential terror threat at the Turkish border, and that it was an invasion operation, at that moment, this operation would pose a real problem for us.”

Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said the French president had a “flawed understanding” of Turkey’s operations in Syria.

He added: “The whole world knows and should know that Turkey does not operate with the mentality of an invader.”


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