Islamic State's Syrian stronghold should be isolated by spring: United Kingdom minister

Turkey is backing the rebels and has deployed several thousand troops to fight the Islamic State in al-Bab, while Russian Federation and Iran support the government's side.

Russian air strikes on Thursday killed three, wounded eleven Turkish soldiers during an operation against Islamic State in Syria. We acted upon the coordinates given by Turkish side.

He said: "I hope that isolation will be completed by the spring and then operations to liberate Raqqa itself can begin thereafter".

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President Vladimir Putin promptly called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to express regrets over the friendly fire incident. An official in a military alliance fighting in support of the Syrian government confirmed a clash had taken place.

Western-backed Syrian forces should isolate Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria "by the spring" before an offensive on the city itself, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Saturday.

Islamic State is under attack from separate campaigns in northern Syria by Russian-backed government forces and Turkey-backed rebels.

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The Turkish-led forces entered al-Bab from the northwest, seizing control of several neighbourhoods.

The Turkish president promised that the forces would leave Syria once the region had been cleared of both Daesh terrorists and fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), whom Ankara sees as a hostile force. One of them said the government forces had moved towards their positions in tanks.

ISIL terrorists have executed at least 40 civilians in the Syrian northern town of al-Bab right after being captured, Al Mayadeen broadcaster reported.

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Erdogan stressed that Turkey's incursion will not end with al-Bab, "which is not our final target". It is now up to Turkey, Russia and Iran to demonstrate whether they can mediate a stable outcome for the town, or whether the front will dissolve into open warfare. "Our forces entered the centre" with Syrian rebels, Erdogan told journalists in Istanbul before leaving for a tour of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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