A total of 14 Turkish soldiers were killed and 33 wounded Wednesday in attacks by Islamic State group jihadists in Syria as the military backs rebels seeking to take the town of Al Bab from the extremists, the army said.
The toll, the heaviest single day loss for the Turkish army in its Syria operation that started in August, came in fighting with jihadists that included three suicide car bomb attacks, the army added in a statement quoted by Turkish media.
The IS-held town of Al Bab, 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Turkish border, has become the main target of the army’s more than three-month campaign inside Syria in support of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels.
The Amaq news agency, affiliated to IS, said a suicide attack was carried out against the Syrian rebels and Turkish troops west of Al Bab, without giving further details.
The Turkish air force meanwhile struck 47 IS targets around Al Bab, killing more than 45 jihadists, Anadolu said. It was not immediately possible to confirm the figures.
After the lightning speed of the earlier campaign that saw the border town of Jarabulus taken on the first day of the offensive, the Turkish army has suffered increasing casualties in the fight for Al Bab.
Around two dozen Turkish soldiers are believed to have lost their lives since Ankara launched its operation Euphrates Shield in August, with most of the deaths blamed on IS attacks.