Al-Bab shaping up as more trouble for Turkey

Rebel fighters gather during their advance towards the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab

From Al-Monitor:

“Turkey’s efforts to take the critical town of al-Bab with the help of its rebel proxies is running into difficulties amid reports that Islamic State militants have dug hundreds of ditches and rigged incoming routes with mines and other explosives to halt their advance.

Turkey continues to pound IS positions near the town, but progress is slow. The number of Turkish casualties are mounting, and the fate of two Turkish soldiers recently captured by IS remains a matter of intense concern.

The English-language Hurriyet Daily News reported Dec. 13, “[IS] dug ditches in the city center and environs and buried explosives in order to slow down the operation, according to the information gathered by unmanned drones, said [an] official, who asked to remain anonymous.”

It also reported, “Some of the ditches are almost two meters long and aim to block tanks and other armored vehicles, said the official. Several bomb-laden vehicles and suicide teams are wandering around the city, according to intelligence gathered by Turkey.”

For more than a month now, the Turkish-led campaign aimed at liberating the town from the jihadists — and importantly to prevent Syrian Kurds from getting there first — has been frustrated by a lack of US support, Russian ambivalence and Syrian and Iranian opposition.”

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