Turkey-backed rebels have largely taken control of Syria's Al Bab from the Daesh terror group militants, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday, but a war monitoring group said the extremists still controlled most of the town.
On August 24, 2016, the Turkish Air Force and special ground forces kicked off Operation Euphrates Shield inside Syria in a declared bid to rid the border area of Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Yesterday, government forces arrived on the southern outskirts of this city of 100,000 inhabitants, 50 km north-east of Aleppo and 30 km south of the Turkish border.
"Our aim is to prevent the opening of corridors from territories controlled by terrorist organisations to Turkey", he said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday before flying to Bahrain that IS fighters have begun deserting al-Bab, which has been under attack for weeks.More news: Congressional Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with ICE officials after raids
Al-Bab has been under IS control since 2014, when the group seized large swathes of territory in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, proclaiming its self-described caliphate. The ministry said that Russian bombers had been on a mission to destroy Daesh terrorists' positions near al-Bab, where Turkish soldiers had been accidentally bombed. The town is only 30km south of the Turkish border.
"As a result, three Turkish soldiers were killed, 11 were wounded, including one seriously", the Turkish General Staff said in a statement.
But the battle for Al-Bab has proved the toughest in the campaign that claimed at least 67 Turkish troops' lives, according to tallies.
The reports of unusual cooperation between the warring factions have yet to be confirmed.
The YPG said it damaged some Turkish military vehicles.