Syrian rebels say close to taking strategic ISIL stronghold of al-Bab

The Kremlin said Putin conveyed his condolences over the "tragic incident".

Al-Bab - just 30 kilometres from the Turkish border - is so-called Islamic State's last stronghold in northern Syria. They add that Turkish forces are meeting strong resistance, and that military casualties are on the rise. Turkey must reduce the tension considering Russian Federation is militarily the strongest power in the Syrian theater, METU's Bagci commented. In late December, the two countries brokered a cease-fire for Syria and in January they sponsored peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. Russian Federation provides aerial support to pro-Assad forces and has been instrumental in pushing the rebels back. Turkish forces and allied insurgents have for weeks pressed an operation codenamed Euphrates Shield to drive the jihadists from the flashpoint town.

Two rebel officials accused government forces of provoking the incident.

The attack in the Hamadaniya neighborhood, also wounded seven other volunteers, the organization said.

The Syrian army and its military operations in the Northern and Eastern parts of Aleppo province will wrap up the case with al-Bab and put an end to the water crisis of the city of Aleppo that runs through al-Bab. But more coordination problems could risk sparking a serious clash, especially if the Turks' Syrian rebel proxies are struck by regime or Russian forces.

The army soldiers engaged in intense battle with ISIL South of al-Bab and seized control of several farms near the newly-liberated town of Deir Qaq.

Syria's army advanced on Friday to the outskirts of a key Islamic State group bastion that is also being targeted by Turkey's army and allied forces, a monitor said.

Erdogan's remarks came on the same day as the Associated Press reported it was told by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that nine-tenths of al-Bab remains under IS control.

According to Erdogan the targets now for the Turks and their allies are Manbij, which is controlled by the Syrian Kurds, and Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria. One of them said government forces had moved towards their positions in tanks.

  • Rogelio Becker