BEIRUT: (Web Desk) Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies entered the Islamic State-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria Saturday, as government forces moved closer to the jihadist bastion, a monitor said.
Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency quoted military sources as saying one Turkish soldier was killed and another wounded in clashes with IS in Al-Bab.
Turkish forces and allied insurgents have for weeks pressed an operation codenamed Euphrates Shield to drive the jihadists from the flashpoint town.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish forces and allied militias entered Al-Bab from the west and then took full control of its western suburbs after fierce clashes with the jihadists.
The fighting coincided with “Turkish shelling and intensive air strikes” on Al-Bab, the Britain-based monitor said.
It said at least six civilians were killed by Turkish artillery fire and air strikes. Al-Bab is the jihadist group´s last stronghold in the northern province of Aleppo and is also being targeted by regime forces.
While Turkish-led forces have been advancing from the north, east and west, Syrian government troops are attacking from the south. On Monday, Syrian troops severed a road leading into the town from the south and by Friday they were just 1.5 kilometres (less then a mile) from the southern outskirts of Al-Bab.
Turkey began an unprecedented campaign inside Syria in August, targeting both IS and Kurdish militia. After initial rapid progress, the campaign has been mired since December in the deadly fight for Al-Bab.