Turkish forces killed 56 Islamic State fighters Wednesday in Syria in the latest successful operation against the militant group. The airstrikes in al-Bab in northern Syria near the Turkish border destroyed dozens of ISIS-controlled buildings and vehicles, reported Hürriyet Daily News.
While 11 of the jihadists were killed in airstrikes by coalition forces, the rest were killed in artillery fire and clashes during the operations in al-Bab, said the Turkish army. Turkish officials said last week they had almost taken control of al-Bab, however, a war monitor said the jihadists still control 90 percent of the town. There are less than 100 ISIS militants hiding in al-Bab, according to The National.
United Nations officials have expressed concern for the 5,000 civilians trapped in and around al-Bab. Shelling and airstrikes have killed dozens of civilians in recent months, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, a Britain-based observatory accused Turkish forces of killing more than 124 civilians in two weeks of airstrikes and shelling.
“We urgently call on all parties to the conflict to immediately ensure the unhindered movement and safe passage for people trying to reach safety. The UN and partners are ready to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the civilians who are caught in the middle of this combat,” said Ali Al-Za’tari, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria.
Turkey has sought for months to clear ISIS forces from near its border and al-Bab has remained a prime target for military operations. Last week, the Turkish military hit 18 Islamic State targets in al-Bab, Reuters reported.
Global leaders meet in Geneva Thurday to discuss a possible peace deal to halt the fighting in Syria's five-year-old civil war. Russia urged Syria this week to stop its bombings against rebel forces such as ISIS. However, hours after rival delegations arrived for the UN-brokered discussions, there seemed to be little progress from all involved sides.