The FSA groups have closed in on the town of Albab in northern rural Aleppo in preparation for the launch of a final assault to drive out ISIS militants from the strategic town. The advance on Albab is part of the Turkish-backed Operation Shield of the Euphrates which began in August.
FSA fighters on Tuesday recaptured the village of Qabbasin near Albab after clashes with militants of the ISIS extremist group. They also clashed with PYD militias in the village of Job Addam near Albab.
The Turkish Army’s General Staff said that the FSA groups finalized preparations to close in on Albab from northern and western sides, adding that the Turkish army targeted 93 ISIS positions in the area. It said that the Turkish shelling destroyed defensive positions, command centers, weapon depots, and vehicles belonging to the extremist group.
Albab lies around 30 kilometers south of the Turkish border and has a population of about 200,000. The capture of the town, which fell to the ISIS extremist group in January 2014, will foil plans by the PYD militia to expand their control to all northern Syria.
In a speech on Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkish-backed forces have laid siege to the town of Albab, preventing ISIS elements, as well as “PYD terrorists,” from using it as a staging ground for operations. According to Erdogan, the goal now is to march on the YPG-held nearby town of Manbij to the east. He said his country’s fight against terrorism cannot be confined within certain limits as terrorist organizations are not bounded by borders. Erdogan issued an ultimatum that all of the PYD elements must leave Manbij immediately.
The FSA groups have captured over 215 residential areas in northern Syria since the launch of Operation Shield of the Euphrates on 24 August, killing dozens of ISIS militants. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office)