ANKARA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) — As many as 46 Islamic States (IS) militants have been killed so far in Turkey's operation in northern Syria, Dogan News agency reported on Wednesday.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have now taken four villages in northern Syrian, Dogan said.

Turkish jets and tanks along with howitzers are reportedly still barraging IS targets in Jarablus in northern Syria. It was the first time for Turkish F-16s to enter Syrian airspace since a Russian jet was shot down last November.

A statement issued by the prime minister's office said the cross-border operation was aimed at driving out IS terrorist militants.

The "Euphrates Shield" operation, which began at 4 a.m. local time (0100 GMT), aims to expunge Turkish borders of terrorist groups, enhance border security and uphold Syria's territorial integrity, the statement said.

Preventing another influx of migrants and delivering necessary aid to the region's civilian population are also among the operation's goals, Turkish officials said.

In Damascus, the Syrian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned the Turkish intervention, saying any anti-terror efforts should be coordinated with the Syrian government.

Turkey's special forces entered Jarablus, a border town inside Syria, under the cover of Turkish air force and the U.S.-led coalition, military sources told Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.

According to military sources, 81 targets were destroyed by artillery fire and tanks stationed on Turkish soil.

At a news conference in Ankara, President Recep Erdogan confirmed the start of the "Euphrates Shield" operation.