ISIS militants have fled a town in Syria less than a day after Turkish tanks rolled across the border on an operation to free the jihadist-held settlement.

 

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The Islamists fled Jarablus before Turkish ground troops even reached the northern Syrian town, with a rebel group backed by Ankara strolling in unopposed last night.

 

A convoy of Turkish tanks entered Syria yesterday in an unprecedented escalation, infuriating Damascus who saw the incursion as a breach of the country’s sovereignty.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the offensive was also to protect Turkey from Kurdish militia who are also fighting ISIS.

 

Erdogan is believed to be planning to set up a buffer zone in the north of Syria to stop the Kurdish group – which are backed by Western powers but considered terrorists by Turkey – from establishing their own territory there. 

 

Turkey on Tuesday sent more tanks into Syria and sternly warned the Kurdish militia to withdraw from frontline positions. 

 

But Defence Minister Fikri Isik warned the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia – who also had designs on Jarablus – to move back east across the Euphrates or also face intervention from Turkey.