Syrian regime, allied militias join battle for al-Bab to impede Turkey’s progress

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Bashar al-Assad with Syrian army troops. File photo

ARA News

Aleppo – Reinforced with Iraqi and Iranian militiamen, the Syrian Army advanced north towards al-Bab city on Sunday, targeting the Islamic State’s (ISIS) local headquarters.

“As the Turkish military and Turkey-backed rebels continued their campaign on al-Bab from the northwest, the Syrian regime and allied militias launched an offensive on the southeastern part of the city,” local media activist Muhammad al-Jassim told ARA News.

Turkey and its rebel allies have been bogged down in al-Bab for almost a month, taking significant casualties without securing any of the city’s neighborhoods. ISIS constructed a warren of tunnels and an extensive trench line in anticipation of the fighting.

Al-Jassim, who is embedded with the Euphrates Shield Brigades in al-Bab, said that pro-regime troops struck ISIS strongholds in the districts of Tadef and Abu Jaabar.

“The regime used the Kweris Airport as a base for its offensive on Sunday,” al-Jassim explained. “The Syrian Army […] engaged in clashes with ISIS fighters in the southeastern suburb of al-Bab for the first time today.”

The clashes reportedly continued until midnight, and it remains unknown whether ISIS lost any positions in southern al-Bab or suffered any casualties.

On August 24, the Turkish military and allied rebel factions launched Operation Euphrates Shield. As part of the operation, Turkey’s military and its allies took over Jarablus city in August.

In early January, the Russia Air Force conducted several airstrikes near al-Bab, targeting Islamic State’s tactical units and fighting positions. The Russian air raids destroyed at least five ISIS strongholds, killing and wounding dozens of ISIS militants.

The Syrian regime has now joined the battle for al-Bab. Analysts believe that the regime is increasingly alarmed by the Turkish advance towards al-Bab, considering it a direct threat to eastern Aleppo, which was recently retaken.

Reporting by: Sulaiman Muhammed and Helin Saeed | Source: ARA News

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