(AFP) — The Turkish army on Monday accused Islamic State (IS) jihadists of killing at least 30 civilians seeking to flee the flash-point Syrian town of Al-Bab, which Ankara and its rebel allies have been seeking to capture for weeks.
The army said that the civilians were killed with mines and homemade bombs as they tried to make their way out of Al-Bab, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, without giving further details.
Thirty-six Turkish soldiers have died so far in the operation — dubbed Euphrates Shield — after another wounded soldier lost his life in hospital in Turkey overnight, reports said.
Sixteen Turkish soldiers were killed by IS in the battle for the town on Wednesday — Ankara’s biggest loss so far since it launched its incursion.
A Britain-based monitoring group has accused Turkey of killing 88 civilians in air strikes on Al-Bab, including 21 children. However, the army has unequivocally denied such claims.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said over the weekend that the battle for Al-Bab is nearly finished, while reiterating that Turkish forces would then head to Manbij, a former bastion of IS that is now under the control of US-backed, Kurdish-led militia.