Turkey’s claims of significant military gains in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab continued today, with officials saying they are “close” to having full control over the city, after some two months of heavy offensive, and an offensive which really began back in November.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights downplayed the claims of gains, saying ISIS still controls about 90% of al-Bab, and warns that the Turkish offensive is taking an increasingly large toll on civilians in the city, with artillery and airstrikes killing at least 45 civilians just in the past 48 hours.
While Turkey’s official statements on al-Bab only ever talk about huge ISIS death tolls, and never mention slain civilians, the Observatory said around 430 civilians have been killed in Turkish strikes since the offensive began.
Turkey invaded Syria in late August, capturing the city of Jarabulus. Since then they’ve taken most of ISIS territory in Aleppo Province, with al-Bab the last large city ISIS holds in the area. Turkey had initially suggested they would attack Manbij next, but in recent days have suggested they intend to move straight into Raqqa Province to attack the ISIS capital.