Turkey-backed rebels have largely taken control of Syria’s al-Bab from Islamic State militants, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday, but a war monitoring group said the jihadists still controlled most of the town. “Al-Bab has been largely taken under control. Our aim is to prevent the opening of corridors from territories controlled by terrorist organizations to Turkey,” Yildirim said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party in parliament. However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants remained in control of the northern Syrian town.
The strategic hills overlooking the northern Syrian town of al-Bab were captured by the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), clashes have resumed for the town’s full control, the Turkish military said in a statement on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference in capital Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that the FSA have surrounded Al-Bab on all sides and clashes resume for full control of town. He added that coordination with U.S.-led coalition and Russia prevents possible clashes with Assad forces as their troops move closer to al-Bab from southeast. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that Turkey and other regional powers should provide special forces troops for the eventual assault on Daesh’s Syrian stronghold, the city of Raqqa.
Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces besieging Daesh-controlled Al-Bab have gained full control of the highway linking the town to Aleppo with intense ground and air fire support, the Turkish military said today. Three Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes near Al-Bab today, and around 20 Turkish soldiers have been killed in the course of “Operation Euphrates Shield”, launched nearly four months ago, to push Daesh militants and Kurdish militias away from the border. Eleven soldiers were wounded, one of them critically, and have been transported to hospital for treatment, the military said.
Turkey’s President says Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces are facing resistance from Islamic State fighters but are close to taking the Syrian town of al-Bab from the extremists. Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told reporters Wednesday that U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters – which Turkey views as terrorists because of their affiliation to Kurdish rebels in Turkey – would soon leave the town of Manbij, in keeping with a U.S. promise to Turkey.