The Latest: Turkey secures area around captured Syrian town

The Latest developments in the Syrian civil war, following Turkish ground forces' incursion (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Turkey's defense minister says Turkish forces are securing the area around the town of Jarablus in northern Syria, a day after helping Western-backed Syrian rebels take the town from Islamic State militants.

Minister Fikri Isik saod on Thursday that the Turkish-backed operation has two main goals — to secure the Turkish border area and to make sure the Kurdish Syrian forces "are not there."

Isik says "it's our right to remain there until" the Syrian opposition forces take control of the area.

Turkey is concerned about the advances of the Kurdish Syrian forces, fearing they aim to set up a Kurdish entity along Turkey's border with Syria. Ankara maintains that the Syrian Kurdish militia is linked to Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

Isik says Ankara and the United States have agreed the Kurdish Syrian forces would pull out of the northern area around Jarablus "within two weeks." He spoke to the private NTV television.

He says that "for now, the withdrawal hasn't fully taken place. We are waiting for it and following it."


10 a.m.

Turkish Foreign Ministry says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Turkish counterpart that Syrian Kurdish forces have started withdrawing east of the Euphrates River.

The pullback was a major demand by Ankara after Turkey sent in forces across the border to take a key Islamic State stronghold the previous day.

Turkish ministry officials say Kerry and Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by telephone on Thursday. Turkey's incursion into northern Syria was also meant to contain an expansion by Syria's Kurds.

Battling IS militants in Syria, the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds have been able to seize nearly the entire stretch of the border with Turkey in northern Syria.

Vice President Joe Biden warned on Wednesday that the Syrian Kurdish forces will lose U.S. support unless they retreat east of the Euphrates.