FSA fighters evacuated from Aleppo to boost fight in al-Bab

AHMET TOPAL
ANKARA
Published
FSA fighters evacuated from Aleppo to boost fight in al-Bab

Following the completion of the evacuation process in Aleppo, with tens of thousands of civilians as well as opposition fighters transported from the eastern parts of the city to opposition-controlled areas in and around Idlib, the moderate opposition from Aleppo is preparing to support Operation Euphrates Shield, which continues apace in northern Syria's al-Bab province.

According to information obtained from security sources, the opposition groups in Syria are to unite under a single force and then set to conduct their first operation in al-Bab jointly with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as part of Operation Euphrates Shield.

However, it has further been noted that Ankara is to determine which opposition groups are to take part in the al-Bab operation. The opposition fighters evacuated from Aleppo are reportedly to join Operation Euphrates Shield via Jarablus.

Currently, brigades of al-Hamza, Sultan Murad and Sultan Fatih are jointly combating with the TSK against Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.

While it is expected that Operation Euphrates Shield is to continue at a faster speed after the new addition of opposition forces from Aleppo, the opposition fighters will then move on to the Manbij and Afrin regions to clear out the PKK terrorist group and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG), from those areas once al-Bab is cleared of Daesh terrorists.

Upon rumors that Daesh has been retreating in al-Bab after its militants left the Mosul fight, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said that such reports are false. Speaking at a press conference after the last Cabinet meeting in 2016, Kurtulmuş said that the Mosul operation has not been concluded yet because Daesh resists there a lot.

Kurtulmuş also dismissed claims that Russian fighter jets have been supporting Turkish military-backed opposition fighters in the al-Bab offensive.

Security sources further noted that the opposition fighters from Aleppo may also receive training from the TSK to protect regions cleared of terrorists as well as fight against Daesh.

Fifteen people, including 13 Daesh terrorists and two Syrian opposition fighters were killed while another was wounded during clashes in Syria's al-Bab on Monday, the Turkish military said in a statement.

According to the TSK, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army also hit 158 Daesh targets, including shelters, command-and-control centers and vehicles.

Operation Euphrates Shield began in late August to rid Syria's northern border area of terrorists. Tuesday marks the 126th day of the operation. In total, 42 landmines and 2,387 improvised explosives have been defused since the start of the operation on Aug. 24.

The joint operation has been pushing southward to clear al-Bab from Daesh, forming a 5,000-square-kilometer terror-free zone, encompassing the towns of al-Bab, al-Rai, Azaz, Jarablus and Manbij.

The terror-free corridor will ensure security for Turkey's southern border with Syria, while also providing a safe haven for locals in the region and stop the mass influx of refugees coming into Turkey.

The operation is also meant to keep the town safe from Assad regime forces and PKK/PYD terrorists, who are seeking to create a "state" in northern Syria.

The PKK/PYD's failure to capture al-Bab means that it will not be able to connect Manbij, on the west banks of the Euphrates with Afrin near the Turkish border.

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