Russian Federation halted Syrian army, rebel clash in northern Syria

Islamic State's (ISIS) militant fighters started to withdraw from al-Bab city in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Everything is going according to our plan.

This could ultimately be a misunderstanding from one side or the other on what the coordinates represented, though it's a particularly embarrassing incident as the two nations have been increasingly cooperating against ISIS forces in al-Bab.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the surge towards the city will be "the beginning of the end" for the terror tyrants. "Raqqa is their main stronghold".

"Our final target is to clean the region from Daesh", Erdogan said.

In the midst of all this, the Islamic State group has renewed its crusade for the remote eastern city of Deir el-Zour, while holding onto the culturally cherished site of Palmyra.

As for the Turks, capturing the northern part of the city cut the way in the face of the growing Kurdish influence in northern Syria, a red line drawn by Turkey. The city also lies on an important highway leading to nearby Turkey and Kurdish-controlled areas.

After Andrey Karlov's assassination, which Erdogan called an attempt to "derail" efforts by Turkey and Russia to work together to bring peace to Syria, the Turkish government offered Russian detectives whatever resources they needed during their investigation.

Operation Euphrates Shield, which involves Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish forces, was launched in August to secure Turkey's border with Syria against terrorists and to support opposition forces.

A Russia- and Turkey-sponsored cease-fire, in place since December 30, has excluded areas where militant factions, the Islamic State group and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate, operate or hold ground.

Erdogan's remarks came on the same day as the Associated Press reported it was told by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that nine-tenths of al-Bab remains under IS control.

The clashes in Al Bab have proved the toughest so far, with Turkish military fatalities increasing.

  • Joey Payne