Turkey Set To Push ISIS From Strategic Town In Syria
Turkey-backed rebels prepare for battle over one last stronghold before turning sights on Raqqa
Turkey is boosting its military campaign in northern Syria and moving toward the ISIS’ held town of al-Bab, a district north of Aleppo and one of the last remaining holdouts left for the terror group in Syria.
The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported on Friday that Turkish jets destroyed ten ISIS targets in the area. ISIS’ Amaq news agency in turn said the Turks carried out 33 airstrikes on al-Bab and Turkish tanks bombed the town with more than 60 shells.
The attacks come after Ankara announced that 300 Turkish commandos will join Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield to push ISIS and local Syrian Kurdish militias from the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey is using Turkish-backed units from the Free Syrian Army, which it supports from the air along with artillery and armor. The units have already taken over the town of Manbij.
The Turkey-backed “Hamza Division” of the Free Syrian Army posted images and videos showing convoys moving toward al-Bab and fighters preparing to enter the town. The account also uploaded a speech by the Division’s commander telling fighters to prepare for a “decisive battle,” urging them to fight to liberate their people, “whether from ISIS or from Assad’s regime.”
استعداد مقاتلوا فرقة الحمزة لاستكمال الاعمال العسكرية للسيطرة على مدينة الباب pic.twitter.com/zu6Ei48Iel
— فرقة الحمزة (@alhamza_brigade) December 9, 2016
Local Syrian activists and Facebook pages on al-Bab posted lists reportedly of people killed in the Turkish attacks. Among them were 12 people who appear to be from the same family, and seven children aged between four and 16 years old. People online blamed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of committing a “massacre” against Syrian citizens while saying he’s fighting ISIS.