Capture of al-Bab from ISIL is almost complete: Erdoğan
AA photoThe capture of Syria’s al-Bab from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is almost complete, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 23.
The president initially slammed the opposition’s criticism on the military operation in Syria, dubbed Euphrates Shield, saying that the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters were close to retaking the ISIL-held town.
“When bombs drop on Kilis, you say ‘Where are you government?’ When we advance on those who drop bombs on Kilis, this time you say ‘Are we the ones who will save the world?’ How naive those people are. Of course we will advance on. Did we make a ‘terror-free safe-zone’ statement from the very beginning? We said be patient but they did not understand. So, we said ‘We will advance on terror not just in our country but also in there [Syria]. Right now, [capture of] al-Bab is about to be completed by our armed forces and the FSA,” Erdoğan said at the opening ceremony of the LNG Terminal project in the Aliağa district of the Aegean province of İzmir.
Erdoğan also refuted claims that there was no diplomatic process during the operation.
“Turkey does not need any diplomacy lessons,” he said.
The battle in al-Bab has recently intensified as FSA fighters continue to battle to take the town from ISIL militants.
Defense Minister Fikri Işık announced on Dec. 22 that a total of 16 soldiers were killed in al-Bab a day earlier, marking the highest casualty for Turkey in a single day since the launch of the operation in August.