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Turkish troops, Syria rebels enter IS-held town of Al-Bab

13 February 2017

Russian airstrikes on Thursday accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers during an operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group in Syria, the Turkish military said, highlighting the risk of unintended clashes between the numerous outside powers in a complex war.

He said there had been a communications failure, adding: "There should not have been Turkish soldiers within the limits of these coordinates".

Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield was launched on August 24, 2017 with the aim of ridding its borders of the presence of terrorist groups including Daesh and the YPG, a Syrian-offshoot of the PKK, which the United States and Ankara designate as a terrorist group.

Turkey-backed-opposition fighters advance in an armoured personnel carrier on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of al-Bab in a bid to enter the city and retake control of it from the Islamic State (IS) group on February 9, 2017.

It did not confirm that Turkish troops are in the town's centre.

The cities of al-Bab and Raqqa are about 25 and 80 kilometers south of the Turkish border, respectively, and lie about140 kilometers apart on opposite sides of the Euphrates river.

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In other developments in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Red Cross said Thursday that a suspected rebel mortar attack that hit a Red Crescent distribution center in the government-held city of Aleppo the day before killed a volunteer and two civilians.

Syria's fronts are on fire despite a cease-fire reached in December between the rebels and the government.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey's incursion will not end with al-Bab, "which is not our final target".

Turkish General Staff also released a statement on Sunday saying at least 42 Daesh terrorists had been "neutralised" in northern Syria in the last 24 hours as part of the ongoing military operation. One of them said government forces had moved towards their positions in tanks. There was no immediate comment from Russian Federation.

The Turkish government insists they provided coordinates to the Russian government on the location of the troops, who were inside a recently captured building.