A total of 10 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombers were killed in fierce clashes with Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) members during an attack on a temporary base belonging to the Turkish army in northern Syria, the Turkish military has said.
In a written statement issued on Feb. 15, the Turkish General Staff said that at around 09:10 a.m. (06:10 a.m. GMT) on Feb. 15, a bomb-laden vehicle along with around eight to 10 ISIL militants tried to attack a temporary base belonging to the Turkish forces positioned in the south of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab.
FSA members, who were standing guard on the outer line of the base realized the approaching jihadists and launched massive fire on them.
Some eight ISIL militants, who were wearing suicide vests and came to the scene on foot to aid the main attack of the bomb-laden vehicle, were killed in the exchange of fire, the army said.
Some seven FSA members were killed after an estimated two ISIL militants inside the vehicle detonated the bomb placed on the car, it added.
The army said that as the bomb-laden vehicle had exploded on the outer skirts of the base no Turkish soldier had been affected.
Turkey since Aug. 24, 2016 has been conducting the Euphrates Shield operation inside Syria with the aim to clear its border line of terrorist organizations.
FSA forces, which are being backed by Turkish artillery and air strikes, have been trying to capture al-Bab from ISIL since December last year.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım recently said on Feb. 14 that al-Bab was now “largely” under the control of the Syrian rebels after months of clashes with jihadists.
After a rapid advance retaking several towns close to the border, the Euphrates Shield operation faced the biggest challenge in the campaign so far with dozens of Turkish soldiers killed in the space of a few weeks.
In the same statement, the Turkish military said that 17 ISIL militants were separately “neutralized” as part of the artillery fire, air strikes and clashes conducted as part of the operation.
The army uses the term “neutralized” to state that the militants were either killed, wounded or captured.
It said that two other ISIL suicide bombers, who were readying to conduct their attack, were neutralized in a residential district of al-Bab.
A total of 194 ISIL targets were hit with Turkish artillery fire, while another 30 ISIL targets were shot in Turkish Air Force air strikes. These include 16 buildings, three military quarters, one bomb-laden vehicle, 10 defensive positions and one armory.