Northern al-Bab offensive (September 2016)

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Northern al-Bab offensive (September 2016)
Part of the Turkish military intervention in Syria and the Syrian Civil War
Northern al-Bab offensive (2016) (within Northern Syria).svg
Map of the wider Turkish-led operations in northern Aleppo and the wider campaigns in Aleppo
Date 16–27 September 2016
(1 week and 4 days)
Location Al-Bab District, Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Status

Offensive aborted[1][2]

  • FSA groups/Turkish capture 10 villages (16–20 Sep.)[3]
  • ISIL captures 20+ villages (21–23 Sep.)[1]
  • FSA groups/Turkish capture 15 villages (23–27 Sep.)
Belligerents

 Turkey
Syrian opposition Syrian Opposition
Support:

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Turkey Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı[4]
(Operations chief commander)
Turkey Lt. Gen. İsmail Metin Temel[5][6]
(Second Army commander)
Syrian opposition Col. Ahmed Othman[7]
(Sultan Murad Division commander)
Syrian opposition Fehim İsa[8]
(Sultan Murad Division commander)
Syrian opposition Ali Şeyh Salih[9]
(Sultan Murad Division field commander)
Syrian opposition Muhammad al-Gabi[10]
(Liberation Army commander)
Syrian opposition Mohammad Abu Ibrahim[11]
Syrian opposition Mustafa Sejari[11]
(Al-Moutasem Brigade political leader)
Syrian opposition Abdel Karim Alyato[12] 
(13th Division commander)
Mahmoud Abu Hamza[13] (Descendants of Saladin Brigade commander)
Capt. Abdel Salam Abdel Razaq[13] (Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement commander)
Capt. Mohammed Abu Mustafa[10]
(Sham Legion commander)
Abu Jafer[14] (Brigade of Conquest commander)
Unknown
Units involved

Turkey Turkish Armed Forces

Syrian opposition Hawar Kilis Operations Room


Other Syrian rebels
Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement[27]

Ahrar al-Sham[27][28]
Unknown
Strength
Turkey 500 soldiers[29]
Syrian opposition 1,500 rebels[29]
United States 40 military advisors[29]
Unknown
Casualties and losses

8 rebels and 2 Turkish soldiers killed (per Turkey & SOHR)[30][31][32][33]

~60 rebels and 2 Turkish soldiers killed, 1 Turkish tank destroyed (ISIL claim)[34][35]
45+ killed (per Turkey)[30][36]

The northern al-Bab offensive was a military offensive and part of the third phase of Operation Euphrates Shield launched by the Turkish Armed Forces and factions from the Free Syrian Army and allied groups, with the goal of capturing the city of al-Bab located north of Aleppo.

Preparations

In early September 2016, rebel and Turkish forces reached within 20 kilometers of al-Bab after capturing a large area of territory from al-Rai to Jarabulus from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The rebels then announced their goal of capturing al-Bab.[13]

Two days later, ISIL evacuated its headquarters in al-Bab and dozens of vehicles carrying militants and weapons drove to the town of Khafsa to the east.[37]

On 14 September, a large number of rebels, Turkish troops and military vehicles gathered north of al-Bab as the Turkish Air Force and artillery bombed ISIL positions near the city.[38]

The offensive

On 16 September, the Turkish Armed Forces and FSA factions officially announced the beginning of the third phase of Operation Euphrates Shield. The FSA vowed to continue until they reach the government-held Kuweires Military Airbase. Dozens of US special forces would also support the operation.[39] On 17 September, a pro-Syrian opposition media had claimed the Turkish-backed rebels had captured the Tal Homs hilltop near al-Rai.[40] On the same day, fighters of ISIL started evacuating their families from al-Bab.[41]

On 18 September, Turkish-backed rebels captured six villages. Meanwhile, the ISIL-affiliated Amaq News Agency claimed that around 60 rebels were killed in Jakkah and Talghar, mostly due to mines when they rushed through these areas.[34] Amaq also claimed that ISIL had destroyed a Turkish tank near Jakkah using a guided missile.[35] By 19 September, the number of villages captured by the rebels had risen to nine.[32]

On 20 September, ISIL reportedly seized six villages in a counter-attack near al-Rai, reaching the village of al-Hadabat, east of the town.[42] In turn, the rebels took control of two other villages near al-Rai.[43] Between 21 and 22 September, the rebels recaptured three villages from ISIL, before losing them again hours later.[44]

As of 22 September, the rebel offensive towards al-Bab had stalled due to the ISIL counter-attack.[44] Meanwhile, ISIL fired two rockets on Kilis in Turkey, leaving eight civilians injured.[45] The Turkish military later stated that it had carried out airstrikes as well as shelling against the positions from where the rockets were fired, resulting in the deaths of 40 militants.[36]

By 23 September, ISIL had captured more than 20 villages from the rebels. Due to the rebel losses, the offensive was halted and the third phase of the Turkish operation was put on hold.[1] During the ISIL advance east of al-Rai, a pro-rebel source claimed the FSA captured a village west of the town.[46]

Between 24 and 27 September, pro-rebel sources claimed the rebels had seized 11 villages from ISIL, including 10 of those previously lost, as well as the electrical grid of Weqfan.[47][48][49][50][51] A pro-government source also confirmed the rebels took control of three other villages, two of which they also previously lost.[52][53][54]

On 27 September, three Turkish soldiers were injured in an attack conducted by ISIL using a bomb-laden drone while the Turkish military shelled 30 ISIL targets.[55]

In late September, the Al-Monitor assessed, taking into account the ISIL recapture of a number of Turkmen villages south of Jarablus from the FSA, that the Euphrates Shield operation could not be sustained without Turkish ground troops, pointing to existing doubts since the very start. It stated the rebel forces were inadequate and the biggest weakness of the operation, which could possibly lead to larger numbers of Turkish troops coming into Syria and into a "quagmire".[2]

Aftermath

Main article: 2016 Dabiq offensive

In the immediate aftermath of the aborted offensive towards al-Bab, the rebels and Turkey launched a new offensive towards the ISIL-held town of Dabiq.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Leith Fadel (23 September 2016). "Turkish-backed rebels lose over 20 villages to ISIS in northeast Aleppo". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Turkey faces decision over boots on the ground in Syria". Al-Monitor. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  3. ^ "Hit-and-run clash in the countryside of al-Rai northeastern countryside Aleppo". SOHR. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Turkish Special Forces: From stopping a coup to the frontline of the ISIL fight Hürriyet Daily News, 24 August 2016.
  5. ^ Nick Tattersall; Humeyra Pamuk (26 August 2016). "Turkey signals no quick end to Syria incursion as truck bomb kills police". Reuters. 
  6. ^ "Korgeneral İsmail Metin Temel Cerablus'ta". Hürriyet Daily News. 26 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "Turkish Forces and Rebels Storm Into Syria, Taking IS Stronghold of Jarablus". VOA. 24 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "SULTAN MURAT TÜMENİ KOMUTANI FEHİM İSA TATHAMUS TÜRKMEN KÖYÜNÜN DEAŞ TERÖR ÖRGÜTÜNDEN TEMİZLENDİĞİNİ AÇIKLADI". 24 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "Sultan Murat Tugayları: Önce Çobanbey ardından Menbiç'e ilerleyeceğiz". 25 August 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "ÖSO komutanlarından Türkiye'ye teşekkür". 25 August 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c Albin Szakola (25 August 2016). "Turkey-backed rebels aim for key ISIS-held town". NOW. 
  12. ^ a b "FSA 13th brigade field commander killed in clashes with IS north Aleppo". Stork on Twitter. 18 September 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Turkish-backed FSA rebels set their sights on last IS Aleppo stronghold after border victory". Syria:direct. 5 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "41K Turkish soldiers ready to support operation Al Bab". Yeni Şafak. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "Çobanbey'in ardından muhaliflerin yeni hedefi Cerablus". AJANS HABER. 9 April 2016. 
  16. ^ "LIVE: Turkish military, coalition forces launch 'Euphrates Shield' operation in Jarablus". Hürriyet Daily News. 24 August 2016. 
  17. ^ Serhat Erkmen (1 September 2016). "Analiz: Fırat Kalkanı'nda bir haftalık bilanço". DW. 
  18. ^ "Syria à la Carte: Turkish Invasion Highlights Rapidly Shifting Alliances-Maximilian Popp and Christoph Reuter". JK Alternative Viewpoint. 31 August 2016. 
  19. ^ "تعزية الفصائل العسكرية باستشهاد القائد العسكري للقوة المركزية في الفرقة13". Fastaqim Union on Twitter. 18 September 2016. 
  20. ^ "Turkish-led forces capture first village in northern Syria". al-Masdar News. 24 August 2016. 
  21. ^ "بيان تشكيل المجلس العسكري لمدينة أخترين و ريفها". 3 October 2016. 
  22. ^ "New rebel group formed in Idlib". AMN. 20 September 2016. 
  23. ^ Caleb Weiss (29 August 2016). "Two US-backed groups clash in northern Syria". The Long War Journal. 
  24. ^ "US backing ensures Arab-Kurd alliance in Syria will survive". Al-Monitor. 2016-09-09. Retrieved 2016-09-09. 
  25. ^ "فرقة حلب الأولى - The first band of Aleppo". First Division of Aleppo on Facebook. 18 September 2016. 
  26. ^ Christoph Ehrhardt (26 August 2016). "Krieg in Syrien - Die Trennlinien verschwimmen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 
  27. ^ a b Susan Fraser; Philip Issa (24 August 2016). "U.S. warplanes support Turkish tanks attacking Islamic State forces in Syria". Military Times. 
  28. ^ "fouad sarkis on Twitter". Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c "With the launch of the third phase of Euphrates Shield, American advisors making their ranks". Al-Watan. 18 September 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "Turkish-backed rebels push south in north Syria: Turkish army". 17 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016 – via Reuters. 
  31. ^ الفصائل المدعمة بالدبابات التركية تسيطر على 5 قرى خلال الـ 24 ساعة الفائتة
  32. ^ a b "Factions continue the third phase of the military operations and control 9 villages since its start". SOHR. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  33. ^ Foundation, Thomson Reuters. "Two Turkish soldiers die in northern Syria operation - security sources". Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  34. ^ a b "60 FSA fighters killed as they wander into ISIS minefield in northern Aleppo". Almasdar News. 18 September 2016. 
  35. ^ a b "ISIS destroys another Turkish tank in northern Syria". Almasdar News. 18 September 2016. 
  36. ^ a b "Turkey kills 40 ISIL militants in Syria after rockets hit its Kilis". Hurriyet Daily News. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  37. ^ "Islamic State evacuating headquarters in Syria's al-Bab". ARA News. 8 September 2016. 
  38. ^ "Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield factions preparing to storm al-Bab". ARA News. 15 September 2016. 
  39. ^ "Syrian opposition progressing third stage to shield the Euphrates". Al-Jazeera. 17 September 2016. 
  40. ^ "[Breaking] Turkish-backed rebels begin Al-Bab offensive in northern Aleppo". Almasdar News. 18 September 2016. 
  41. ^ "Islamic State jihadis move their families from al-Bab to Raqqa". ARA News. 17 September 2016. 
  42. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (20 September 2016). "ISIS rapidly recapturing villages from Turkey-backed militants in northern Syria". Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  43. ^ Antonopoulos, Paul (20 September 2016). "Free Syrian Army factions capture villages from ISIS". Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  44. ^ a b Desk, News (22 September 2016). "ISIS recaptures several villages from Turkish-backed rebels". Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  45. ^ Leith Fadel (22 September 2016). "Daesh rockets fired from Syria hit Kilis, injure 8 people". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  46. ^ "#EuphratesShield: as ISIS counter-attacks E. of Al-Rai FSA still advancing on W. side with takeover of Bahuriya.". Liveuamap. 23 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  47. ^ "The Free Syrian Army has recaptured Qarah Kuz, Tat Homus, Tal Shair, Qantarah, and Qasajiq from IS after IS had captured them for a few hours.". Liveuamap. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  48. ^ "FSA regain Sandi, Bahurta, Kadrish and Sandari from IS in north Aleppo.". Liveuamap. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  49. ^ "FSA established full control over Tilaylan village.". Liveuamap. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  50. ^ "Syria, Aleppo: FSA took Electrical grid station south of Weqfan from IS". Liveuamap. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  51. ^ "FSA retook Tell'ar Gharbi/Sharqi from IS in northern Aleppo.". Liveuamap. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  52. ^ "FSA regain control of al-Muthminah east of al-Ra'i after clashes with IS.". Liveuamap. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  53. ^ "Yani Yaban was captured by FSA". Liveuamap. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  54. ^ Sayed Ridha (24 September 2016). "FSA regain al-Athriyah south-east of al-Ra'i #pingpong.". Twitter. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  55. ^ Uğur Ergan (28 September 2016). "Three Turkish soldiers wounded in ISIL drone attack in Syria". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 

External links

  • Kadri Gursel: "Turkey faces decision over boots on the ground in Syria", Al-Monitor, 27 September 2016
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