On the second day of an extensive operation to liberate the Daesh-held town of al-Bab as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, the Turkish military-backed Free Syrian Army fighters breached the town, sources on the ground told Daily Sabah
The Turkish military-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) Monday breached into the strategic Daesh-held al-Bab town, sources on the ground told Daily Sabah. After the Turkey-backed opposition army launched an extensive operation Sunday to liberate al-Bab, the fighters entered the town on the second day. Sources on the ground speaking to Daily Sabah said that FSA fighters are within al-Bab, but the liberation of the town "could take a little more," if Daesh's resistance turns out to be stronger than expected. The FSA liberated key towns such as Jarablus and Dabiq in an unexpectedly short amount of time that it had not been anticipated.
An FSA commander speaking to Daily Sabah, who wanted his name to remain anonymous, said that there could be a surprisingly swift liberation if Daesh decides to retreat from al-Bab as well.
There are reportedly clashes inside the town with Daesh militants trying to entrap FSA fighters with snipers and suicide attack vehicles.
Apart from Turkish support to the FSA through artillery fire and airstrikes, Turkish special forces are reportedly also on the ground with the opposition fighters to help liberate the town.
Having liberated the town of Dabiq, considered a crucial town for Daesh militants, FSA fighters have set their sights on al-Bab. Opposition fighters have recently accelerated their march toward the town, liberating villages and towns along the way.
The FSA has expanded operations to include al-Bab due to its geostrategic position between the cities of Manbij and Aleppo. If the PYD seizes al-Bab, it will be able to connect its cantons to the west and east, ultimately establishing a terrorist corridor.
Turkish military jets have struck 15 Daesh targets in Syria's al-Bab region as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, the military said Monday.
According to a statement released by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Sunday's airstrikes destroyed two control centers, an ammunition depot and 10 defensive positions. No aircraft from the international anti-Daesh coalition were involved in the operation, the statement added.
The strikes were in support of a fresh attack to capture al-Bab, which lies around 35 kilometers (22 miles) northeast of the center of Aleppo. The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) took control of seven villages in the day.
Nine FSA fighters were killed during clashes and 52 others injured. Four Turkish soldiers were wounded by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the statement said.
Separately, 10 members of the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were killed in artillery strikes over 24 hours as they attempted to seize control of the Tal Jijan area, the statement said.
Turkey launched the operation in cooperation with the FSA on Aug. 24 to clear its southern border of Daish terrorists and liberate northern Syrian towns of the terrorist group.
The operation is in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international treaties and a mandate given to Turkey's armed forces by its parliament in 2014, which was extended for another year in September 2015.
Nearly 1,600 square kilometers (617 square miles) of land in northern Syria has been cleared of Daesh terrorists since Operation Euphrates Shield was launched on Aug. 24.