Fourteen Turkish soldiers killed fighting IS in Syria

Fourteen Turkish soldiers killed fighting IS in Syria
At least fourteen Turkish soldiers were killed and 33 were wounded Wednesday during battles to retake the Syrian city of al-Bab from the Islamic State group.
2 min read
21 December, 2016
Turkey has suffered heavy losses in the battle for al-Bab [Anadolu]
A total of 14 Turkish soldiers were killed and 33 wounded Wednesday in attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria as the Ankara's forces back Syrian rebels seeking to take the town of al-Bab from the extremists, the army said.

The toll, the heaviest single day loss for the Turkish army in its Syria operation that started in August, came in fighting with militants that included three suicide car bomb attacks, the army added in a statement quoted by Turkish media.

Four soldiers were killed in attacks earlier in the day, the army had previously announced.

Another 10 were killed later Wednesday.

The fierce fighting erupted as Turkish officials said the army was entering into a key phase in the fight for al-Bab.

The army said that the clashes erupted around a weapons depot that had been used by IS for the last two years.

It said that 138 IS militants were killed in the fighting. The army's toll could not be verified independently.
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The Turkish army has pressed ahead with an ambitious campaign inside Syria to back opposition fighters who have since August captured Jarabulus, al-Rai and the symbolically important town of Dabiq from IS.

However, capturing al-Bab – where the extremists reportedly regrouped after fleeing an earlier offensive – has proved much tougher in an operation that has already taken several weeks.

After the lightning speed of the earlier campaign, the Turkish army has suffered increasing casualties in the fight, with most the deaths blamed on IS attacks.

In November, however, four Turkish soldiers were killed by an airstrike the army said it believed was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Meanwhile, the army said on November 29 that two Turkish soldiers had gone missing in Syria, the first time such an incident had been reported in the campaign.

The IS-linked Amaq news agency claimed that the group had taken the pair hostage.

The Turkish government says its military offensive is seeking to cleanse its border from IS and Syrian Kurdish militia forces, regarded as terror group by Ankara.

Turkey has for years been pressing for a safe zone inside Syria to shelter refugees along its border, but so far, its calls have not been heeded.