As the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) moves toward the Syrian town of al-Bab, as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, the locals who sought refuge in Turkey have been hopeful, yearning for the day when their hometown will be liberated from the Daesh terror group.
Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched on Aug. 24 in order to increase Turkey's border security and to support the anti-Daesh coalition forces by eliminating the threat posed by the group, has achieved significant success, particularly with the liberation of the northern Syria towns of Jarablus and Dabiq, which holds ideological significance for the group. The retired mufti of al-Bab, who now resides in Turkey's southeastern Şanlıurfa province with the support of humanitarian aid provided by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), told Anadolu Agency (AA) that with the operation in al-Bab, the locals will be released from Daesh oppression.
"Once our town is cleared of Daesh, our people will be able to take a breath of fresh air, just like the people in Jarablus. Al-Bab is much larger and more strategic compared to Jarablus and Azez. Our town has nearly 400,000 people with its surrounding area, this is why Daesh chose it," the retired Mufti Zekeriya al-Masoud said, adding that after al-Bab, the operation should move to Manbij, Aleppo, and eventually all of Syria should be liberated."We salute the move toward al-Bab, after Jarablus," said Isa Bunni, who was a teacher in al-Bab before he sought asylum in Turkey once Daesh took the town,adding that locals in Jarablus now continue a normal daily life and that Jarablus should be an example of liberation for other parts of Syria.Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) issued a statement on Thursday saying that two FSA fighters, who are backed by Turkey, were killed Wednesday but did not specify where the fighting took place.
However, FSA forces have been fighting Daesh around al-Bab, 38 kilometers northeast of Aleppo. The Turkey-backed FSA, meanwhile, currently stands roughly 2 kilometers to the north of al-Bab. The military added that 60 Daesh and three PKK and Democratic Union Party (PYD) targets were hit in airstrikes, including shelters, defensive positions, command centers, guns and vehicles. Again, it did not give a location. Nearly 1,720 square kilometers of land has been cleared of Daesh as part of the operation.
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