An Islamic State attack in the Syrian town of al-Bab killed at least 30 civilian who were seeking to escape and wounded many others Sunday, the Turkish military said in a statement Monday.
Islamic State (IS) militants used mines and homemade bombs to prevent civilians from leaving the flashpoint town, the statement said without giving further details.
Syrian rebels supported by Turkish forces have been fighting to take al-Bab as part of the “Euphrates Shield” operation launched by Turkey in late August to sweep the Sunni hard-liners and Kurdish fighters from its Syrian border.
But they have been facing tough resistance from the jihadists and have suffered the highest casualties of the campaign since then in the fight for the town.
FILE – Rebel fighters gather during their advance towards the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab, northern Syria Oct. 26, 2016.
Call for air support
Turkey on Monday called on members of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State to provide air support for Turkey-backed troops laying siege to the
“The international coalition must carry out its duties regarding aerial support to the battle we are fighting in al-Bab,” a spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said. “Not giving the necessary support is unacceptable.”
Turkey deployed more tanks and artillery to the border during the weekend and has also sent 500 elite commandos to al-Bab in readiness for a final fight for the town, local media reported.
Thirty-six Turkish soldiers have died so far in the Euphrates Shield operation.