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Turkey launches new artillery strikes on IS in Syria: report

Ankara: Turkish armed forces launched new artillery strikes on positions of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, local media reported today.

Turkish artillery fired shells from howitzers positioned in its border region against IS targets in the north of Syria’s Aleppo province, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported reported.

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 second time within a week that Turkey had shelled IS targets in Syria, after a period of over a month when there had been no reports of Turkish strikes against the extremist group.

Turkey had on February 28 shelled six IS targets in Syria a total of 41 times, a senior government official said this week.

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 at midnight last Friday, the official said.

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.