Turkey-backed opposition fighters have wrested control of two villages from Daesh near the embattled town of al-Bab, rebel groups said on Wednesday.
The Syrian regime also announced its forces were advancing on the Daesh-held town, and were close to the two villages taken by opposition groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner.
— FSA News (@FSAPlatform) 1 February 2017
Observers are concerned that the rapid advance of regime forces on al-Bab risks confrontation with Turkey-backed forces.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus on Tuesday said al-Bab will not be handed over to the forces of regime leader Bashar al Assad once Daesh is driven out.
Ongoing Turkish operations
The Turkish military said on Thursday it “neutralised” (killed, wounded, or captured) 51 Daesh militants in the previous 24 hours of fighting in northern Syria.
The losses were one of the biggest Daesh has suffered since Turkey lauched its Operation Euphrates Shield in August 2016 to secure its border with Syria and drive terrorists from the region.
The army also said it hit 244 Daesh targets, including command facilities, defensive placements, shelters, vehicles and weapons.
Al-Bab is a key town in northern Syria, which is now the focus of fighting that involves Daesh, the Syrian regime and its allies, Turkey-backed opposition to the regime and Daesh, and an alliance of US-backed Syrian militias also fighting Daesh and the regime.