Originally appeared at Colonelcassad; Translated exclusively for SouthFront
In the area of al-Bab, the Turks and militants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched an offensive east of the town, outflanking it from the direction of Bzaa and Qabasin.
As a result of fierce clashes, both sides suffered losses in manpower and military hardware (ISIS lost 1 infantry fighting vehicle and 2 vehicles equipped with machine guns; pro-Turkish forces lost 3 infantry fighting vehicles, 1 vehicle equipped with a machine gun and 1 Turkish tank was damaged); The Turks were able to overrun ISIS defenses and forward units of the FSA reached Bzaa’s outskirts and to move further to the south, shortening the distance to the Syrian Arab Army which develops an advance south of al-Bab.
The advance of the Turkish army and the FSA is backed by Turkish artillery and warplanes. They bomb ISIS targets, directly supporting the advancing Turkish force, and in the area between al-Bab and Tadif – this aims to complicate regrouping of ISIS forces. Airstrikes near al-Bab are also delivered by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the US Air Force.
ISIS attempts to counter-attack and actively uses suicide bombers, but cannot stop the advance. The situation worsens for ISIS.
The grouping of ISIS militants near al-Bab is under a threat of encirclement and soon ISIS leadership will have to decide: to defend the town till the death or to order a tactical retreat to southeast, in the direction to Deir Hafer. A strategy aimed to encircle al-Bab has looked much better than attempts to storm the town from the front since the start.
Revetments are aimed to make difficult the usage of military hardware by Turkish forces in the town.
A Turkish-made Combra armoured vehicle captured by ISIS in December 2016
A Syrian battle tank south of al-Bab