More than 2,250 terrorists have been killed, wounded or captured in northern Syria in a Turkish-backed operation launched late August last year, the Turkish military said in a statement Friday. Operation Euphrates Shield has resulted in 1,940 Daesh fighters, and 315 PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), terrorists being "neutralized," the Turkish General Staff said in a weekly briefing note on the 150-day campaign to eliminate the terror threat along Turkey's southern border. Meanwhile, A Daesh car bombing attack hit the Turkish military in the Suflaniyah region of the town of al-Bab on Friday.
The attack around 1:40 p.m. local time killed 5 Turkish soldiers and wounded 9 others, the military said in a written statement.
The operation has been focused on the Daesh-held town of al-Bab since early December. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters supported by Turkish forces have reached the town's western and northern outskirts, the statement said. On Thursday they took control of the village of Suflaniyah.
The Turkish military-backed FSA began a siege on the city of al-Bab several weeks ago and, even though Euphrates Shield forces have controlled the two main roads linking al-Bab to Manbij and Aleppo, in addition to an al-Bab hospital used by Daesh for storing weapons, the whole city has yet to be liberated from Daesh.
Commenting on this issue, a senior Turkish official said the Turkish military's sensitivity to civilian casualties is one of the main reasons that the operation is taking longer. "The main challenge of the al-Bab operation is the civilian population in the city. There are about 30,000 civilians living in the city, and obviously we have been very careful not to have any civilian casualties. That is why our soldiers going after the Daesh targets are very careful, and that is why we have casualties of our own," an official said.
The military said 227 residential areas and 1,875 square kilometers (724 square miles) of land has been secured along northern Syria's Azaz to the Jarablus corridor that runs parallel to the Turkish border.
The Turkish Air Force has hit 1,237 targets, the statement added. More than 3,000 improvised explosive devices, and 43 landmines were disarmed.