1,000 ditches, booby traps in al-Bab slow down Euphrates Shield operation
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARANearly 1,000 ditches and a large number of improvised explosives and mines left by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in al-Bab have decelerated the entry of the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the city in northern Syria as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation, which started in late August, according to Turkish security forces.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters kicked off an offensive aiming to lay siege to the city of al-Bab on the weekend following weeks of a standstill in the operation after besieging the west of the ISIL-controlled city in northern Aleppo province.
ISIL dug ditches in the city center and environs and buried explosives in order to slow down the operation, according to the information gathered by unmanned drones, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Some of the ditches are almost two meters long and aim to block tanks and other armored vehicles, said the official. Several bomb-laden vehicles and suicide teams are wandering around the city, according to intelligence gathered by Turkey.
Turkish forces on the ground have hit 109 ISIL-related targets in northern Syria, with the Turkish Air Force hitting 29 targets in the al-Bab, Tadif and Zarzur regions on Dec. 11 and early Dec. 12. Four ISIL members were killed in the attack, while two FSA members lost their lives, injuring 12 others.
On Aug. 24, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation in Syria, the Euphrates Shield operation, with FSA fighters to clear the country’s southern border of both Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish fighter jets resumed air strikes against ISIL positions in al-Bab earlier in the month, destroying nine positions late on Dec. 6 during a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to Russia.
Ankara has assured Russia that its military offensive does not target Aleppo, but merely al-Bab, in northern Aleppo province.