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Free Syrian Army near Al-Bab, Launches 3rd Stage of Euphrates Shield - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut- Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters taking part in the Euphrates Shield Operation have reached the entrances of al-Bab city, one of the main ISIS strongholds in northern Syria.

The terrorist organization has prepared its fighters to confront any FSA attack by encircling the city with a large ditch planted with mines, a leading Syrian opposition military officer told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying the upcoming battle is difficult, but would end within 10 days.

A Commander with the Euphrates Shield operation, Mustafa Sijari, said that opposition fighters were now seven kilometers away from al-Bab city, adding their arrival was delayed as a result of the presence of a large number of civilians in the area.

“We have called on them to leave quickly,” he stated.

Sijari told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We know that the battle would not be easy, particularly that the organization uses explosions, and it has completed all the preparations to confront our attack by encircling the city with a large ditch and calling on its top fighters to defend the city.”

Sijari asserted that the Turkish role is limited to offering logistic support. “There are no Kurdish fighters in the operation against the terrorist organization. We, the Free Syrian Army, lead the battle,” he said.

The commander spoke about information confirming that ISIS fighters might hand over the city of al-Bab to regime forces or members from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in case they feel the FSA are about to control the city.

A German news agency quoted on Thursday sources as saying that opposition fighters had controlled the villages of Sheikh Alwan, Maqale’ al-Boushi and Hadath and were now located on the outskirts of al-Bab city.

Ara News said that armed opposition factions had quickly advanced in ISIS-controlled areas northwest of the countryside of northern Aleppo.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Armed Forces said Syrian opposition forces gained control of the village of Sheikh Alwan of the Al-Rai town.

The statement said two ISIS terrorists were killed during clashes with FSA forces.

It added that the Turkish army has hit 92 ISIS targets and another PKK/PYD target in northern Syria.