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Kurdish rocket attack on Turkish tanks in Syria kills soldier

Turkey fiercely opposes Kurdish moves to expand into territory lost by Islamic State
Turkish tanks make their way towards Syrian border town of Jarablus (Reuters)

One Turkish soldier was killed and three wounded on Saturday in a rocket attack by Kurdish militia on two tanks taking part in Turkey's military offensive in northern Syria, state media said.

The dead soldier - who has not been identified - is the first confirmed Turkish fatality of Turkey's unprecedented operation in northern Syria which began on Wednesday and has so far proceeded with lightning pace.

The rocket fire came from members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Anadolu said. Turkey considers the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be terror organisations, even though they are backed by Ankara's ally the United States as effective anti-jihadist fighting forces in Syria.

Anadolu said that the Turkish army responded to the rocket attack by shelling PYD targets in Syria, without giving further details.

The tanks were hit in the area of the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which Turkish forces helped pro-Ankara rebels seize from Islamic State (IS) group militants on Wednesday, the Dogan news agency said.

Turkey has said that its offensive in Syria is targeted against the Kurdish militia as well as IS, warning the YPG to retreat from its recent advances.

Earlier, activists had reported the first fighting between the Kurdish forces and Turkish tanks inside Syria since Ankara began its offensive.

Turkey fiercely opposes moves by the YPG to expand into territory lost by IS, the National website reported. Ankara fears the emergence of a contiguous autonomous Kurdish region in Syria would bolster Kurdish rebels across the border in south-eastern Turkey.

Turkey now has dozens of tanks and hundreds of soldiers on the ground in Syria and is ready to send more, media reports have said.

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