Erdogan says Syria's al-Bab 'will soon' be cleared from Daesh

A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter carries a walkie talkie as he stands with his fellow fighters during an offensive against Islamic State militants in northern Raqqa province Syria
Is Russia Fighting Turkey In Syria? Kremlin Admits Airstrike Killed 3 Turkish Soldiers
Author

13 February, 2017

Turkey is backing the rebels and has deployed several thousand troops to fight the Islamic State in al-Bab, while Russian Federation and Iran support the government's side.

Three Turkish soldiers were accidentally martyred Thursday by a Russian jet during airstrikes against Daesh in northern Syria's Al-Bab region.

"According to initial information we received, it is a total accident but how it happened and how the coordination was miscalculated will be clarified".

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in August 2016 to maintain border security citing ISIS terrorism and a desire to deny the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a safe haven in Kurdish areas of northern Syria.

Turkey's president says his troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters have entered the centre of the northern town of al-Bab that is a stronghold of the Islamic State group.

Another fight against IS is raging in east and northeast Syria, where Kurdish troops, backed by the United States, are advancing against the IS in the militants' de facto capital of Raqqa.

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The death toll for Turkish troops fighting in Syria is now at 67. "I believe the liberation of al-Bab will be complete very soon", Erdogan said.

"The offensive operation resulted in the Syrian government forces' approach to the contact line coordinated with the Turkish side", it said.

Syria is now split into areas controlled by one of four factions; ISIL, the Syrian government, the Free Syrian army, and the Kurds. Rebels, for their part, struck at government positions in central Hama province, though they have been mostly occupied by infighting in Idlib that calls into question the direction of their insurrection.

The Russian Defense Ministry has also confirmed the unintentional strike, killing Turkish servicemen in Syria.

The race for al-Bab has shaped up to be a test for the emerging cooperation between Russian Federation and Turkey to help end the 6-year-old conflict in Syria - and the outcome could define a lot of what happens next.

There was no immediate comment from Damascus on the reported clashes.


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