Turkey says '100 Daesh fighters' left in Syria's Al-Bab

February 24 (ANI): At least 45 people have reportedly been killed and several others injured after a auto bomb hit Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a village near al-Bab.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS fighters were still present in parts of the town and that rebels were in control of less than half of it. Other activists placed the number of deaths at 50.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said the rebels were now combing al-Bab for mines.

Al Bab was IS's last remaining stronghold in Aleppo province, after a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters seized the town of Manbij in August. On Thursday, the Turkish-backed FSA declared that its forces had retaken al-Bab, formerly a Daesh stronghold.

It has also driven a wedge between Turkey and the United States, which initially backed a Kurdish-led force to retake the northern border town.

The discovery comes almost a week after clashes in Idlib province between the extremist Jund Al Aqsa rebel group and Al Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate and allied factions.

Turkey sent troops across the border into northern Syrian in August to help Syrian opposition forces battle IS and halt the advances of USA -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Civilians were gathering to seek permission to return to al-Bab when the bomb exploded, the opposition-run Qasioun news agency said.

"The conflict in Al-Bab has put civilians, many of whom are women and children, in grave jeopardy", said Kevin Kennedy, regional coordinator for the Syria crisis.

It would also allow Turkish-backed forces to press on toward Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria, complicating an earlier USA plan to back Kurdish fighters in that effort. ISIL is under attack on several fronts in the area, recently clashing with Syrian Government forces in Deir Az Zor city.

Yet there had been no indication from Erdogan that the Turkish forces inside Syria want to rest on their laurels with the taking of Al-Bab.

While Euphrates Shield has been largely focused so far on combating the Islamic State, Ankara is also determined to prevent the Kurdish YPG militia, which it considers a terrorist group, from linking the cantons it controls along the Turkish border.

Flanked by the two delegations at a vast assembly hall at the UN's headquarters, Mr de Mistura spoke to diplomats from regional and world powers including the U.S. and Russian Federation, saying the talks were a window of opportunity to see if a political road forward could be found. It said the target was a rebel checkpoint.

  • Leroy Wright


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