Hundreds of ISIS ditches, explosives slow down Turkish-backed advance in Syria

The Turkish-backed Syrian rebel offensive is advancing slowly into ISIS-held al-Bab, where the militants have dug almost 1,000 ditches and planted several explosive devices.

Hurriyet news cited an anonymous Turkish military official on Tuesday who said Turkish drones observed ditches, some as long as two meters, dug by ISIS to stop tanks and other vehicles from entering the city. Also, Turkey has observed ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and suicide bomber teams in al-Bab.

As part of Operation Euphrates Shield Turkey is supporting the advance of at least 1,500 Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels on al-Bab. Over the weekend these rebels and their Turkish backers moved to encircle the city.

The rebel offensive is backed by Turkish air, armor, artillery and troop support. The Turkish Air Force reportedly bombed 29 targets in the al-Bab region on Sunday and Monday while ground forces attacked targets belonging to the militants.

The slow Turkish-backed advance into al-Bab comes as a Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive has successfully crushed the majority of the opposition in Aleppo’s opposition-held east. Syrian and Russian officials have reported that regime forces control as much as 97 percent of that city.

Turkish officials have stated they have no intention to use al-Bab as a launch pad to target Aleppo, which is approximately 50 kilometers southwest of al-Bab.

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