Clashes between Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and ISIL fighters have intensified around the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab, resulting in the deaths of 16 Turkish soldiers, the military’s highest single-day toll of its four-month campaign inside the country.
Wednesday’s battles, in which another 33 Turkish soldiers were wounded and 138 ISIL members were also killed, were some of the deadliest yet in Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria, according to the army.
“The operation to control Al-Bab, which is being besieged under the Euphrates Shield Operation, is ongoing,” the army said in a statement.
The military had said earlier that rebel forces, which have been launching attacks on ISIL fighters in Al-Bab for weeks, had largely established control over the strategic area around the town’s hospital.
“Once this area has been seized, Daesh’s dominance of Al-Bab will to a large extent be broken,” it said in an earlier statement on Wednesday, using an Arabic acronym for the group.