Smoke rises from Al-Bab as rebels advance towards the town, in Syria January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Turkey is enduring the biggest challenge of a five-month military campaign inside Syria as it battles to capture the town of Al-Bab from ISIS, taking heavy casualties and testing an army stretched by post-coup purges.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 December 10 .ISIS 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.Cagaptay said Turkish forces were being targeted by ISIS foreign fighters who had been largely encircled by offensives in Syria and Iraq and were engaged in a fight to the death, ready to employ suicide bombers.
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