Donkeys walk past a rebel military vehicle on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Turkey is enduring the biggest challenge of a 5-month-old military campaign inside Syria as it battles to capture the town of Al-Bab from Daesh (ISIS) militants, taking heavy casualties and testing an army stretched by post-coup purges. The ambitious "Euphrates Shield" operation – with Turkish forces backing pro-Ankara Syrian rebels in an unprecedented incursion – began in spectacular style in August as the army ousted militants from a succession of border towns including Jarablus.At least 48 Turkish soldiers have been killed in the incursion so far, according to an AFP tally, the vast majority in the battle for Al-Bab since the fight for the town began on Dec. 10 .Daesh in December claimed to have burned to death two Turkish soldiers – although this was never confirmed by Ankara – while the corpses of two kidnapped soldiers were returned this month.
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