Video footage released by Syrian rebel fighters shows bursts of gunfire amongst the deserted and destroyed streets of al-Bab. Families fled the city as fighting intensified.
These recent clashes follow Turkey’s announcement that it had killed 44 jihadists in the city, from where it believes some of the terrorist attacks committed on its soil were planned.
Turkey launched its Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria last August, with the aim of ousting ISIL from areas close to its border. It justified the cross-border incursion on the grounds of the self-defence rights codified under United Nations Charter Article 51.
al-Bab is a meeting point for all four of the factions currently controlling Syria: ISIL, the Syrian Government, the rebel Free Syrian Army, and the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.
It also occupies a strategically important position on the road leading south to Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIL.
Meanwhile, Kurdish military sources have claimed that Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the US, have advanced 35 kilometres into Deir Az Zor province, as part of their bid to encircle and then recapture Raqqa.
ISIL is under attack on several fronts in the area, recently clashing with Syrian Government forces in Deir Az Zor city.