Turkish border guards. File photo
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KILIS – On Tuesday, at least one Turkish soldier was killed and two others wounded in the southern province of Kilis by cross-border fire near Syria, authorities said.
The fire came from Syrian territory held by militants of the Islamic State (ISIS), a Turkish official told Reuters.
Kilis province, adjacent to Syrian territory held by ISIS, has seen several such incidents in the recent weeks, especially after Turkey joined the U.S.-led coalition by striking ISIS positions in neighboring Syria.
The Turkish authorities have also opened airbases for warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition amid intensifying strikes on ISIS headquarters in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey has recently intensified security measures along the borderline with war-torn Syria.
Ankara has started to construct a 45 kilometer-long concrete wall along its border with Syria, local media reported last week.
According to Dogan news agency, the Turkish authorities have already erected 12 kilometers of the concrete wall along the border of Hatay province with Syria.
The Rihanli town in the southern Turkish province of Hatay has been used by smugglers for years.
“Many Syrians have crossed the border illegally into Turkey through Rihanli with support of smugglers. The wall could ease the pressure of refugees’ influx into Turkey,” civil rights activist Mustafa Demer told ARA News.
“The Turkish project is also aimed at preventing foreign militants from using the Turkish territory to cross into Syria and join extremist groups there,” Demer said.
The Turkish government has reportedly reached an agreement with the United States to establish a safe zone in northern Syria in order to ease refugees’ pressure on Turkey.
This comes as Turkey has stepped up its airstrikes on Syrian areas held by militants of the Islamic State.
Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri