Syrian Army cuts off last IS-road to al-Bab: monitor

Syrian Army tank close to al-Bab (c) Sputnik/Mikhail Voskresenskiy

The Syrian army has completed the siege of al-Bab, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The organisation reports that the road connecting the Islamic State (IS) held area of al-Bab, the eastern countryside of Aleppo and the provinces of al-Raqqah and Deir al-Zor are under fire control by the Syrian army after the capture of Uwayshiyah hill.

While the Syrian army has closed the roads leading from al-Bab to the east, south and south-west, Turkish troops and Turkey backed groups, constituting the forces of the Euphrates Shield operation, hold the north.

According to SOHR, Turkish forces have failed to enter the town of al-Bab, a claim supported by a leading PKK figure who said that Turkey’s troops “haven’t managed to take even a single building in al-Bab in 158 days.”

“The support of the coalition forces to Turkey’s effort in al-Bab has been very insufficient,” Turkey’s Government Spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said a couple of weeks ago. The statement seems to support the claim that Turkish troops and their allies are facing difficulties in al-Bab.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the two main forces laying siege to the IS-controlled town of al-Bab, Syria and Turkey, have a fraught relationship and have so far avoided confrontation due to Russian mediation.

Syria strongly denounced Turkey’s recent attacks near the Syrian town of al-Bab, calling on the United Nations to assume its responsibilities and put an end to the violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty.

In its statement SOHR also said IS was getting ready to retreat from al-Bab and had sent the families of its fighters and leaders to areas under the group’s control.