ISIL forces in al-Bab surrounded by Syrian, Turkish troops
Syrian government forces advanced on the northern Islamic State-held city of al-Bab on Monday, cutting off the last supply route that connects it to militant strongholds further east towards Iraq, a monitor said.ISIL is under pressure in both Iraq and Syria and there is a threat of Kurdish forces attacking the caliphate's capitol Raqqa. What ISIL may have going for it is that the Syrian and Turkish forces could also soon be in conflict too.
Islamic State militants in the area are now effectively surrounded by the army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, as Damascus and Ankara race to capture the largest Islamic State stronghold in Aleppo province.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said the army and allied militia made gains southeast of al-Bab overnight, and fought the militants there on Monday.
Backed by air strikes, they severed a road that links the city to other Islamic State-held territory in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces, it said.
A military commander in the alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad said Islamic State was encircled.
"There is one narrow passage left out of al-Bab," the commander said. Government forces now had most of it "within close firing range".