Turkey, Syrian Rebels Kill 68 ISIS Fighters Near al-Bab

Turkey, Syrian Rebels Kill 68 ISIS Fighters Near al-Bab | Heavy fighting around al-Bab has led to major civilian toll

Heavy fighting in and around the ISIS city of al-Bab in northern Syria’s Aleppo Province has raged throughout the week, and Turkish officials have reported at least 68 ISIS fighters killed in fighting and airstrikes since Friday night, on top of 40 reported killed on Friday itself.

Thursday and Friday saw the airstrikes killing a large number of civilians, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting 88 civilians were killed by Turkish airstrikes in just about 24 hours. The Turkish government never addressed the civilian deaths.

Nor did they over the weekend, for in spite of the report of substantial ISIS casualties, Turkey did not offer any figures on casualties among their own forces, or the Syrian rebel factions that are backing them in the invasion. They also did not mention any civilian deaths.

A city of about 60,000, al-Bab is due east of Aleppo, and one of the last significant cities held by ISIS in the area west of the Euphrates. Turkey has indicated that after the city has fallen they will advance against Kurdish forces in Manbij, before pushing into the area around the ISIS capital of Raqqa. ISIS still controls substantial territory around Raqqa, as well as much of Deir Ezzor Province and the city of Palmyra.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • survivor

    so where is big mouth Samantha Powers accusing Turkey of war crimes for killing 70 civilians? Hypocrite she is.

    • Bianca

      She has all kinds of problems. Let me start with just four.

      One, if Turkey takes Al-Bab from ISIS, there is no connectivity between two Kurdish enclaves. Hence, the draft constitution already prepared by State Department for the “young democracy” will be wasted. Kurds will not be able to get forces from Afrin, just Kobane area in the east to tackle Raqqa. And that is not enough.

      Two, Turkey will reverse ethnic cleansing of Manbij and force Kurds to withdraw – as Biden once promised but Kurds did not deliver. And by freeing up area from terrorists, start the creation of safe zones to allow for refugee return.

      Three, Turkey knows that US is doing anything it can to prevent Turkey from prevailing at Al -Bab. There is ample proof of that. Al-Nusra, now in Idlib, has arrested any militants that joined Turkey to fight ISIS and Kurds. Al-Nusra, still having the aura of Aleppo heroes, is in fact PROTECTING ISIS — as US is fearing Turkey may break through and after Manbij, essentially controling access to Raqqa. That would utterly defeat the plans of letting Kurds kick out Arabs and permanently enlarge Kurdish area on border with Iraq. Thus, isolating Syria from Iraq by an unfriendly entity. Turkey is against Kurdish nation building.

      Four, Russia has added its air power to help Turkey around Al-Bab. NATO member Turkey is assisted in defeating ISIS by Russia — not by US as expected. Russia is helping Syrian forces also attack ISIS at Deir Azzor to the West of Raqqa. This is a strategy of pulling ISIS defences from fortifying East to West. Like in Aleppo, the middle will not hold. Eventually.

      What can Samantha Power say now? As the mass graves of tortured civilians are duscovered in ruins of East Aleppo? As the documentation is now collected from all former Al-Nusra human shields in East Aleppo. What does she have to add to the facts — as Al-Nusra is now trading HOSTAGES they took with them under UN “supervission” out of Aleppo, to get back their militants?

      All her screaming about Syrian military committing massacre of civilians as Army liberated Aleppo — was a purely preemptive strategy. She knew what will be discovered in Aleppo. And wanted to drown it in noise. There is nothing she could do — as Turkey, Iran and Russia signed a roadmap for reestablishing peace in Syria. This means that Turkey is in Syria legitimately — and can coordinate militarily with all parties.

      But time is running out on Samantha and the establishment. As their parting shot — a “good” terrorist has used his eight year old daughter as a suicide bomber. And other “good” ones have poisoned supplies of drinking water. Samantha’s good rebels.

      As Mosul operation has stalled — it does not appear that US is trying to dislodge ISIS in Raqqa at all. This may lead to conflict between Turkish and US air rights over Raqqa.

      Hopefully, Samantha Power and the entire Middle East policy makers stop making any further plans. They have done enough.