ANKARA, Turkey hit 59 Daesh targets and killed 51 militants in northern Syria as part of its ongoing incursion, the Turkish military said.

Turkish forces have surrounded the Daesh-controlled town of al-Bab for weeks as part of an operation that has been going on for more than five months.

Four of those killed were so-called emirs, or local commanders, the Turkish military said, adding that its jets destroyed 56 buildings and three command control centres in the al-Bab and Bzagah regions.

Coalition forces also conducted eight airstrikes in the al-Bab region, destroying two defence positions and two armed vehicles.

Meanwhile, an alliance of U.S.-backed militias said it had started a new phase of its campaign against the Daesh-held city of Raqqa, aiming to complete its encirclement and sever the road to militant strongholds in Deir al-Zor province.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement the action was being undertaken with “increasing support from the (U.S.-led) international coalition forces through guaranteeing air cover for our forces’ advances, or via the help provided by their special teams to our forces on the battle ground”.

The SDF, which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, launched its multi-phased campaign aimed at encircling and ultimately capturing Raqqa in November.

A SDF commander said the forces had so far advanced a few kilometres in the latest phase, which aims to capture areas to the east of the city, including the highway linking it to Deir al-Zor province.

Deir al-Zor, which is almost entirely in Daesh hands, stretches all the way to the Iraqi border.

Several hundred U.S. special forces soldiers have been supporting SDF operations against Daesh in northern Syria. France said in June that its special forces were advising rebels in the same area.

This is the third phase of the Raqqa operation. The first phase targeted areas north of Raqqa city. The second phase, targeting areas to the west of the city, is ongoing, with SDF forces yet to capture the Daesh-held Euphrates dam.

U.S. support for the SDF has been a point of tension with NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group that has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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ANKARA, Turkey hit 59 Daesh targets and killed 51 militants in northern Syria as part of its ongoing incursion, the Turkish military said. Turkish forces have surrounded the Daesh-controlled town of al-Bab for weeks as part of an operation that has been going on for more than five months....