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Bloody battle for Syria's al-Bab as Turkey tightens grip against ISIL

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By Alasdair Sandford  with Reuters
Bloody battle for Syria's al-Bab as Turkey tightens grip against ISIL

<p>The fighting around the town of al-Bab in northern Syria has been described as some of the deadliest yet in Turkey’s four-month old “Euphrates Shield” operation against the Islamic State group. </p> <p>The Turkish military said 14 of its soldiers and 138 jihadist fighters were killed on Wednesday.</p> <p>Another 33 Turkish soldiers who were wounded were taken to hospital at Gaziantep in Turkey’s southeast, it added.</p> <p>The military said Turkish airstrikes destroyed dozens of <span class="caps">ISIL</span> targets on Wednesday. </p> <p>Earlier it claimed that Turkish-backed Syrian rebels had largely established control over the strategic area around al-Bab’s hospital, following weeks of attacks against the <span class="caps">ISIL</span> militants.</p> <p>Turkey’s military operation is focused on combating <span class="caps">ISIL</span> or Daesh, but Ankara is also determined to prevent the Kurdish <span class="caps">YPG</span> militia from strengthening their presence along the Turkish-Syrian border.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><span class="caps">SYRIA</span>: <span class="caps">ISIS</span> release footage of Turkish airstrike targeting their position in al-Bab, northern Syria. <a href="https://t.co/Ck4tMiBMpc">pic.twitter.com/Ck4tMiBMpc</a></p>— Conflict News (@Conflicts) <a href="https://twitter.com/Conflicts/status/811717850138349568">December 21, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>