Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

Free Syrian Army fighters. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2017
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Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

ISTANBUL: Turkey said Wednesday fewer than 100 Daesh terrorists were still holed up in a flashpoint Syrian town which has seen the bloodiest clashes of Ankara’s half-year campaign inside the conflict-torn country.
Speaking to NTV television, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said half of the town of Al-Bab was in the hands of Turkish troops and allied pro-Ankara Syrian rebels, after the government repeatedly said it was “largely under control.”
Since launching its unprecedented incursion into Syria in August, Turkey has been focusing on Al-Bab as the last bastion of IS extremists in Aleppo province.
But the battle for the town has been fierce, with most of the 69 Turkish soldiers killed in the Syria campaign dying there.
“We estimate there are less than 100” IS fighters left in Al-Bab, Isik told NTV. “But they are very dangerous people. Some are snipers, some are potential suicide bombers.”
“More than half of the town is now in our hands,” he said, indicating that the operation to surround Al-Bab was “over” with troops now moving from district-to-district to “clean up” the town.
“Until this clean-up inside is completed, it’s impossible to say that our work is over,” he added.
Rebel commanders on the ground told AFP troops were facing fierce resistance, with IS using snipers and laying roadside bombs.
But Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP in Beirut that Turkish troops and allied rebels controlled only 25 percent of Al-Bab, with some 700 jihadists still fighting there.
The Britain-based Observatory has also accused Turkish forces of killing more than 110 civilians in two weeks of air strikes and shelling.
But Ankara has vigorously denied claims that innocent lives have been lost, insisting it does its best to avoid civilian casualties.


Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

Updated 23 May 2019
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Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

  • The commander said they will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for their enemies
  • Tensions between Iran and US escalated after Trump restored sanctions

GENEVA: The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills,” a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.
Tensions have spiked between the two countries after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!“
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday that “There will not be any negotiations between Iran and America.”
Keyvan Khosravi was also quoted as saying by the state broadcaster that some officials from several countries have visited Iran recently, “mostly representing the United States.”
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, visited Tehran on Monday.
“Without exception, the message of the power and resistance of the Iranian nation was conveyed to them,” he said.
In Berlin, a German diplomatic source told Reuters that Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.