REUTERS - Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday Moscow was deeply worried by the escalation of tension on the Turkish-Syria border after Ankara sent military forces into Syrian territory.
- Backed by Turkish army, Syrian rebels push ISIS out of border town Jarablus
- U.S. sides with Turkey: Kurdish militias must retreat east of Euphrates
- Turkey bombs ISIS, Kurdish targets in Syria, says 'opening corridor' for moderate rebels
Turkish special forces, tanks and jets backed by planes from the U.S.-led coalition spearheaded their first co-ordinated offensive into Syria to try to drive Islamic State from the border and prevent further gains by Kurdish militia fighters.
The assault was accompanied by Syrian rebels supported by Ankara who focused on capturing the border town on Jarablus, which was reportedly secured with ISIS fighters in retreat just hours after the Turkish offensive had begun.
It was just last month that Turkey apologized to Russia for last year's shooting down of a Russian warplane, restoring cooperative relations that had been damaged after the incident.
Turkish officials expressed explicit interest in working with Russia in the fight against ISIS and reports even suggested that Russia could be granted rights to use Turkish air force bases from which to launch airstrikes in Syria.
The U.S. has long pushed for more aggressive action by Turkey against the Islamic State group. But Turkey's move to thwart Kurdish ambitions puts it on a path toward potential confrontation with Kurdish fighters in Syria who are also supported by the United States and have been the most effective force battling ISIS in northern Syria.