A statement from the Turkish military over the weekend reported 46 ISIS fighters “neutralized” and another 16 wounded in fighting in and around the city of al-Bab,which Turkey and its allied rebel forces have been trying to occupy for well over a month.
“Neutralized” doesn’t necessarily mean killed in Turkish military statements, as the military will also refer to enemies as “neutralized” if they’ve been captured, or even if the building they’re hold up in is just surrounded and they figure they can’t get out.
As is often the case, the Turkish military statement provides only part of the picture of the battle, and included no casualty figures for either Turkish ground troops or for Syrian rebels fighting on their side against ISIS. This often leads to heavy disputes over casualty figures from both sides. The Turkish statement also reported 17 buildings “used as terror shelters” were attacked in airstrikes.
Al-Bab is the last significant city in Aleppo Province which ISIS still controls, as the Turkish invasion of northern Syria last year quickly took the bulk of ISIS’ territory in the border province. Turkish officials had indicated their intention was to take al-Bab then attack the Kurdish-held city of Manbij, but al-Bab is taking a lot longer than anyone seems to have expected.