Turkey-backed rebels prepare for assault on ISIS-held Syrian city
Rebels, backed by Turkish tanks, warplanes, close in on strategic al-Bab in northern Syria. turkey has sent 300 commandos to northern Syria to reinforce "Euphrates Shield" and push Islamic State and Kurdish fighters alike back from the border.Preparations are under way for a final operation by Turkish-backed rebels on the Islamic State-controlled city of al-Bab in northern Syria
, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.
The city is of strategic importance to Turkey, partly because Kurdish-dominated militias have also been trying to take it from the jihadists.
Turkey-backed rebels closed in on an Islamic State-held city in northern Syria with Turkish tanks and warplanes supporting the assault, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week.
Turkish state media said Ankara had sent 300 commandos to northern Syria to reinforce "Euphrates Shield," the operation it launched three and a half months ago to push both Islamic State and Kurdish fighters back from the border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through a network of sources in the country, confirmed there was an increased number of Turkish troops with the Euphrates Shield forces.
Ankara is determined to prevent the Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as a hostile force, from joining up cantons it controls along the Turkish border, fearing that would embolden Kurdish separatism at home.
Speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting, Kurtulmus also said humanitarian aid shipments to Syria's Aleppo should not depend on the establishment of a cease-fire and called on the international community to help set up an aid convoy.
Also on Monday, a Turkish fighter jet on a training mission crashed on its final approach to an airport in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. Turkey's military said the pilot had ejected from the plane and was unharmed.