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IS cordoned off from outside world as Turkey seals border

Turkey has targeted both IS and Syrian Kurdish forces that have been key to driving militants out of other parts of Syria
Boy watches smoke rising in recent clash between Turkish forces and IS near Syrian-Turkish border town of Jarabulus (AFP)

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Sunday that his nation's forces and Syrian rebels expelled the Islamic State (IS) group from the last areas of the Syrian-Turkish border under its control.

The advance effectively seals off the group's self-styled caliphate from the outside word, shutting down key supply lines used to bring in foreign fighters, weapons and ammunition, the Daily Mail said.

"From Azaz to Jarabulus, our 91 km border has been completely secured. All terrorist organisations have been repulsed and they have gone," Yildirim said during a televised speech while visiting the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that IS lost its last stretch after the few remaining villages it controlled were recaptured by rebels.

The Britain-based monitor said "rebels and Islamist factions backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes" had taken several villages on the border "after IS withdrew from them, ending IS's presence... on the border".

The advance comes after Turkey launched an operation on 24 August dubbed Euphrates Shield, saying it was targeting both IS and Syrian Kurdish forces that have been key to driving the militants out of other parts of the Syrian-Turkish border.

The Kurdish YPG militia is a key partner of the US-led coalition against IS and has recaptured large swathes of territory in Syria from the militant group.

But Ankara considers the YPG a "terrorist" group and has been alarmed by its expansion along the border, fearing the creation of a contiguous, semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria.

Turkey also says the YPG is a sister organisation of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) with whom a two-year ceasefire collapsed last year.

The PKK - proscribed by Ankara and its Western allies as a terrorist organisation - has since launched frequent attacks on security forces in the country's southeast.

Yildirim said that Turkey's purpose in northern Syria was to "cleanse Daesh [IS], PKK, YPG, PYD elements" and to secure its border.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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