A Turkish soldier was killed and two others wounded in a bomb attack by Daesh militants near the northern Syrian city of Al-Bab, Turkish security sources said today.
The three soldiers were evacuated alive by helicopter yesterday and taken to the southern Turkish town of Gaziantep, but one of them died from his injuries, the sources said.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria in August, sending in warplanes, tanks and special forces in support of largely Turkmen and Arab rebels, to try to drive Daesh and Kurdish militants away from its border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Turkish-backed forces were just 2 kilometres from Daesh-held Al-Bab and were expected to take it quickly despite some resistance.
Al-Bab is of particular strategic importance to Turkey because Kurdish-dominated militias have also been pushing to seize it. Ankara is determined to prevent Kurdish forces from joining up cantons they control along the Turkish border, for fear it will stoke Kurdish separatism at home.
Although Turkey is a NATO member and part of the US-led coalition against Daesh, Washington has said it is not providing support for the Turkish bid to take Al-Bab.
The US has provided military support to Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria which Ankara views as a hostile force that is part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has led an insurgency for Kurdish independence inside Turkey, claiming tens of thousands of civilian lives.
Although the US supports Kurdish fighters in Syria, it, along with Turkey and the European Union, considers the PKK as a terrorist organisation.