Preparations for final operation on Syria’s al-Bab underway: Turkish Deputy PM
AA photoPreparations for a final operation by Turkey-backed rebels on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled city of al-Bab in northern Syria are underway, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said after a cabinet meeting Ankara on Dec. 12.
“[Preparations] over al-Bab has come to its final stage. The city has been encircled and preparations for an operation to deal a death blow are being made. I hope this part of the al-Bab campaign will be finalized soon,” Kurtulmuş stated.
Turkish troops and its Syrian opposition allies kicked off an offensive aiming to lay siege to the city of al-Bab over the weekend following weeks of a standstill in the operation after besieging the west of the ISIL-controlled city in northern Aleppo province.
Nearly 1,000 ditches and a large number of improvised explosives and mines left by ISIL in al-Bab have decelerated the entry of the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the city, Turkish security forces told Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 12.
Capturing al-Bab from ISIL is part of Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation that was launched on Aug. 24.
Ankara-backed FSA fighters are fighting to clear the country’s southern border of both ISIL and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, which Ankara considers a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish artillery fire destroyed 157 ISIL targets, while 28 other ISIL targets were destroyed by Turkish air strikes as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation, the Turkish army said in a statement on Dec. 13.