ISIS in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab is now caught between Turks to the north and Syrian army to the south
Turks in Syria just caught a lucky break.
After they had been held at bay by ISIS for months they're finally making progress into the outskirts of the northern town of al-Bab. The reason for that isn't one you would expect.
In the past few months the Turks had two of their soldiers captured and burned alive by ISIS, over ten of their German-built Leopard 2 tanks disabled, and over 20 of their soldiers killed in action -- with very little to show for it.
Now they're making gains again, occupying more Syrian territory, and the reason is -- the Syrian army.
In the past few weeks and days Syrians have pushed to the north and east of Aleppo, that is to say in the direction of al-Bab. With ISIS outflanked and having to fight on two fronts both the Syrians and now the Turks were able to make decent pace.
So much so that Syrians are now just a few miles from the town center themselves. ISIS in al-Bab now finds itself sandwiched between the Turks to the north and Syrians to the south. They are effectively surrounded as the only theoretical way for ISIS into town is an open desert in range of Syrian weapons.
The big question now is who is actually going to take the town proper. The Turks and rebels on their payroll are closer, but then they haven't exactly covered themselves in glory so far and it is a Syrian town.
In either case however, this is probably as far south as Turks will go. By expanding to al-Bab the Syrians have considerably narrowed the Turkish-ISIS front. If Turks attempted to go deeper into Syria they could only do it through vulnerable bottleneck.
Of course months ago Erdogan talked a big talk of how after al-Bab he is going to turn eastwards and dislodge Kurds from Manbij so theoretically that is an option. But it is certainly not one that would endear him to the Russians who want a negotiated solution as soon as possible -- not another flare up.