Ankara- It is too early to speak about the retreat of ISIS terrorists from the northern Syrian city of al-Bab as they are still active in the city, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Sunday.
On Saturday, Turkish media reported, citing military sources, that ISIS militants started to leave their positions in al-Bab.
“The operation which aims to liberate Syria’s al-Bab from ISIS terrorists continues as planned. However, we slowed down the offensive in order to prevent civilian losses. That is the most important issue.”
“It is still early to say that ISIS is retreating, but there is some kind of activity. Sometimes terrorists change their positions,” Isik said.
In August 2016, the Turkish army launched Operation Euphrates Shield against ISIS.
Turkish forces, along with Syrian opposition forces, have occupied the city of Jarabulus in northern Syria and are currently carrying out an offensive on a strategic city of al-Bab to drive ISIS militants out.
Local sources noted that the Turkish army has been facing troubles in advancing at al-Bab battle and has lost around 47 soldiers since the beginning of the operation, in addition to a number of tanks.
In this regard, the Turkish army announced on Sunday the death of one of its soldiers and the injury of two others during clashes with ISIS militants near al-Bab in northern Syria.
Earlier in the day, the Turkish military said a total of 18 ISIS militants were “neutralized” in northern Syria over the last 24 hours as part of the Euphrates Shield operation.
The Turkish Armed Forces also hit 18 ISIS targets in northern Syria, said a Turkish General Staff statement.
Turkish jets destroyed three gun positions, four checkpoints, two underground tunnels and nine buildings.