Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with IS group in Syria
Turkey's military said that 14 Turkish soldiers were killed and more than 33 were wounded in clashes with Islamic State (IS) group militants near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab on Wednesday while 138 jihadists were killed in the fighting.
Turkish state television said that 10 Turkish soldiers were killed in three separate suicide attacks in the northern town of al-Bab, which Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters are trying to recapture from Islamic State group jihadists.
The report by TRT television came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the IS group was fighting "for dear life" in al-Bab, carrying out suicide bombings and attacks with improvised explosive devices.
Earlier today four soldiers were also reported killed in the battle for al-Bab.
A total of 35 Turkish soldiers have died in northern Syria since August, when Turkey sent ground troops to support Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces in clearing a border area of IS group militants and to curb Syrian Kurdish territorial expansion.
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have been besieging the IS group jihadist-controlled town of al-Bab for several weeks.
"The operation to control al Bab, which is being besieged under the Euphrates Shield Operation, is ongoing," the army said in a statement.
The military had said earlier that the rebel forces had largely re-established control over the strategic area around the town's hospital.
"Once this area has been seized, Daesh's dominance of al-Bab will, to a large extent, be broken," it said in a statement on Wednesday, using an Arabic acronym for the group. The jihadists were using suicide bombers and car bombs intensively, it added.
The military said that some of the intense fighting on Wednesday had been centred on a hospital area, on the slope of a hill overlooking al-Bab that had long been used by the Islamic State group as a weapons and ammunition store.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)