Turkish armed forces and allied Syrian rebels have completely taken the Islamic State bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria from jihadists, the military said on Friday.
“As of February 24, 2017, control of all neighbourhoods in Al-Bab have been secured” by opposition fighters supported by Ankara against the Islamic State group,” the army said in a statement.
“Activities continue to clear areas under control of obstacles, mines and hand-made explosives,” it said.
Al-Bab, which is 25 km south of the Turkish border, was the jihadists’ last stronghold in the northern province of Aleppo.
Turkey launched its unilateral military operation last August supporting Syrian opposition fighters, targeting the IS as well as Syrian Kurdish militia.
At the start of the operation dubbed Euphrates Shield, the rebels swiftly captured Jarabulus, Al-Rai and Dabiq in northern Syria from IS jihadists.
After the lightning advance, the operation became mired in a drawn-out conflict in Al-Bab lasting two months as jihadists put up a stronger fight to keep the town.
It proved to be the bloodiest battle in Turkey’s campaign, where Ankara suffered most of its 71 losses so far, including two soldiers who were killed in a suicide attack today, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.