Bomb Blasts Near Newly Liberated Syrian Town Kill at Least 60

An Islamic State auto bomb killed more than 50 people today in a Syrian village held by rebels, a war monitor said, a day after the jihadist group was driven from its last stronghold in the area.

As mines laid in and around al-Bab claimed lives for a second day, the Sultan Murad Brigade fighter said many IS cells were still operating there. He said some fighters had been wounded, however, including by weaponised drones.

The campaign to liberate al-Bab proved to be one of the bloodiest in Turkey's campaign in Syria, with at least 69 Turkish soldiers killed there.

The strategic town, just 25 kilometres south of the Turkish border, was the jihadists' last stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

Binali Yildirim, the Prime Minister, said at least six Turkey-backed soldiers were killed in the Susiyan bombing before another explosion near al-Bab killed two Turkish soldiers on Friday.

The security office in Susiyan is in charge of issuing documents and providing an escort for civilians wishing to return to al-Bab.

SOHR added that more than 124 civilians have been killed by Turkish airstrikes and shelling in the past two weeks.

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Turkey's artillery and ground forces attacked 109 IS targets on Tuesday, while the air force pounded four IS-controlled buildings on the outskirts of the city of al-Bab, Efe news reported.

"The situation in al-Bab is not stable", Issa Khider, a local activist, said Friday.

Turkey has been fighting alongside rebel forces in Syria since August, as part of its Operation Euphrates Shield, meant to drive terrorist forces away from the Turkish border.

An estimated 100,000 people lived in the town in 2011 when Syria's nationwide uprising against President Bashar al-Assad morphed into war.

Despite major changes on the ground and in diplomatic circles since the parties last met in Geneva almost a year ago, however, expectations were low.

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura said: "I'm not expecting miracles", but warned of dire consequences if the talks "fail again". "There are spoilers. We know it".

  • Megan Austin