Strategic area around al-Bab hospital cleared of Daesh terrorists, defense minister says

Strategic area around al-Bab hospital cleared of Daesh terrorists, defense minister says

Defense Minister Fikri Işık announced Friday that the area around the Daesh-held hospital used as a command-and-control center, and ammunition depot on Sheikh Aqeel Hill in al-Bab had been cleared from terrorists.

"With the FSA, we have cleared the most critical area in al-Bab, the Sheikh Aqeel Hill, from Daesh terrorists," Işık said, adding that there was still much to be done.

"We know that three Turkish soldiers are currently in the hands of Daesh, but any information other than this has not yet been confirmed," he added.

This week, 16 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's al-Bab in four different separate attacks by Daesh suicide attacks amid heavy bombardments.

On Friday, military sources said that Turkish warplanes hit 51 Daesh targets, killing 22 Daesh terrorists and destroying 37 buildings used as shelters, weapon pits, defensive positions, three arsenals and one logistics center in northern Syria's al-Bab on the 122nd day of Operation Euphrates Shield. Artilleries hit 143 Daesh targets and killed two additional terrorists in the operation on the same day.

Meanwhile, security forces also intensified anti-Daesh operations across Turkey. On Friday, Istanbul policedetained 31 suspects in raids carried out in an investigation against the Daesh terror group. Arrest warrants were issued for 41 suspects as part of an investigation carried out by the terror and organized crime bureau of Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office. Some 31 suspects were found and detained in their addresses, while 10 others are still being sought by the police.

Işık told Parliament on Thursday that a nearly 2,000-square-kilometer area had been cleared of the Daesh terror group in northern Syria and more than 1,000 terrorists had been killed in northern Syria since the launch of Operation Euphrates Shield, and that clearing Daesh from al-Bab had officially begun.

The government has argued that Turkey's counterterrorism operations are continuing both inside and outside the country, as the anti-terror measures have become part of protecting Turkey's sovereignty against threats posed by several terror groups, including Daesh, the PKK and the People's Protection Units (YPG), as well as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

The operation on al-Bab was launched as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, which aims to eliminate terror threats to Turkey's southern borders posed by Daesh and PKK's Syrian offshoots, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG). In addition, the operation aims to establish a 5,000-square-kilometer (1,930 square mile) terror-free area in northern Syria, comprising of the towns: al-Bab, al-Rai, Azaz, Jarablus and Manbij.

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