ISIS fights back in Syria’s al-Bab

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An Islamic State (ISIS) militant fighter. File photo

ARA News

Aleppo – Clashes broke out on Tuesday between Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants and Syrian regime’s army forcers south of al-Bab city in northern Syria.

ISIS militant fighters recaptured the town of Abu Jabbar in southwestern al-Bab. This comes just a few days after the group lost the town to the Syrian Army.

“ISIS attacked the regime troops in Abu Jabbar with mortar fire and car bombs, killing and wounding dozens,” local media activist Mahmoud al-Mansour told ARA News.

“ISIS took over the town after heavy clashes, pushing the Syrian regime’s forces towards Aleppo,” the source reported.

A Syrian military source also confirmed the withdrawal.

Islamic State’s militants have been under a huge pressure in al-Bab city and its environs, with the Turkish Army and rebels hitting the area from the north, and the Syrian Army advancing from the south.

“ISIS started regrouping and fortifying its positions in al-Bab in a bid to avoid its loss since the city is one of the group’s last key strongholds in northern Syria,” rebel spokesman Salih al-Zein told ARA News.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that ISIS fighters started to withdraw from al-Bab city.

On Saturday, Turkey’s military forces and allied Syrian rebels entered the city of al-Bab for the first time after months of clashes with ISIS.

The Turkish-led forces entered al-Bab from the northwest, seizing control of several neighbourhoods. This while the Syrian regime’s troops continued to push towards the city from the south, cutting off a main ISIS supply route.

However, Islamic State’s (ISIS) fighters still hold control of major parts of the city, and the group started to fight back in order to keep its positions in al-Bab.

Turkey and its rebel allies have been bogged down in al-Bab for almost three months, taking significant casualties. ISIS constructed a warren of tunnels and an extensive trench line in anticipation of the fighting.

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 key ISIS strongholds, killing and wounding dozens of ISIS militants.

On 4 January, Erdogan had also said that the Turkey-backed offensive of the Euphrates Shield Operation to take Syria’s al-Bab city from ISIS should conclude soon.

In mid-January, the Syrian regime has also joined the battle for al-Bab city. 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 Muhammad | Source: ARA News

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