A Turkish army tank drives towards to the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province

(Reuters) At least nine more Turkish tanks entered northern Syria on Thursday as part of an operation aimed at driving ISIL out of the area around Jarablus and preventing Kurdish fighters from seizing territory, Reuters witnesses said.

A senior Turkish official said there were now more than 20 Turkish tanks inside Syria and that additional tanks and construction machinery would be sent in as required.

“We need construction machinery to open up roads … and we may need more in the days ahead. We also have armored personnel carriers that could be used on the Syrian side. We may put them into service as needed,” the official said.

The deployments are part of “Operation Euphrates Shield”, in which Syrian rebels backed by Turkish special forces, tanks and warplanes on Wednesday entered Jarablus, one of ISIL’s last strongholds on the Turkish-Syrian border, in Turkey’s first major U.S.-backed incursion into its southern neighbor.

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