Turkish-backed Syrian Rebels Push into IS-held City

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels on Saturday entered the Islamic State-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria, as government forces also approached the jihadist bastion, a monitor said.

Turkey believes recent IS attacks in Turkey, including a New Year's Day shooting in an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, have been steered from al-Bab and Raqqa, and it regards a clear-out of the towns as a national security priority. They add that Turkish forces are meeting strong resistance, and that military casualties are on the rise.

Russian air strikes that accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers in Syria were launched based on coordinates provided to Russia by the Turkish military, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday.

Smoke rises from an "Islamic State" position in al-Bab. Fighting has continued around Aleppo and in other parts of Syria despite a Russia- and Turkey-sponsored cease-fire.

"Daesh forces have started the process of leaving al Bab".

Turkey's units entered central al-Bab, the operation is being conducted in coordination with Russian Federation to prevent clashes with Syrian government forces.

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The government and rebels have converged on the town with clashes breaking out between the two sides for the first time on Thursday.

He said Turkish forces had no intention of staying in Syria once the area had been cleared of both Islamic State and Kurdish YPG militia fighters, whom Turkey sees as a hostile force.

The news comes as the Turkish military operation in Syria's al-Bab has entered the final stage. Troops would ultimately press on to Raqqa - about 175 kilometers southeast of al-Bab.

Syria is now split into areas controlled by one of four factions; ISIL, the Syrian government, the Free Syrian army, and the Kurds.

Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield was launched on August 24, 2017 with the aim of ridding its borders of the presence of terrorist groups including Daesh and the YPG, a Syrian-offshoot of the PKK, which the U.S. and Ankara designate as a terrorist group.

  • Adam Floyd