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In a statement released on Friday morning, the Turkish Army confirmed another of its soldiers had been killed near al-Bab during skirmishes with ISIS.

Since operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ began in late August, at least 17 Turkish soldiers have been killed and dozens wounded. In addition, an estimated 30 Turkish armoured vehicles have been destroyed due to clashes with ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Yesterday, Ankara accused the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) of carrying out a deadly airstrike on its troops, killing three soldiers in the process. A fourth died overnight due to injuries from the air raid, a Turkish military official said.

However, an exclusive Al-Masdar News source later denied that the SyAAF had been operational in the area, suggesting the incident to be a false flag operation by Turkey.

Since operation Euphrates Shield began, the pro-Ankara rebels have captured the ISIS stronghold of Jarablus, cleared ISIS from Al Rai and retaken the symbolically important town of Dabiq without much resistance. In total, 218 villages and towns have been captured from ISIS and the SDF in the past three months.

Now, Syrian rebels – heavily supported by the Turkish Armed Forces – hope to dislodge ISIS militants from the city of al-Bab. Yesterday, rebel forces seized two villages east of the Islamic State bastion.

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