In one of the deadliest single days of fighting since Turkish forces invaded northern Syria, Turkish forces engaged in major battles around the ISIS-held city of al-Bab, which Turkish forces have sought to occupy for weeks.
According to Turkish officials, the fighting left 14 soldiers and 138 ISIS fighters dead, and at least 33 Turkish soldiers also wounded. There was no word on the death toll among pro-Turkey rebels, who make up a substantial number of the fighters in the region.
Al-Bab is along a key highway east of the city of Aleppo, and west of Manbij. Turkish officials have indicated that after taking al-Bab they intend to move on and take over Manbij, which Kurdish YPG forces took over from ISIS over the summer, as part of an effort to consolidate the far north of Syria into the hands of rebel allies.
Turkish forces have sustained fairly limited casualties so far since their invasion of Syria, mostly relying on heavy air support and artillery strikes before moving into ISIS-held villages. Al-Bab is one of only a handful of cities of any size they’ve attempted to take, however, and it’s much slower going, with today’s violence underscoring how much more dangerous the offensives are when the defensive forces are there in numbers.
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