Beirut: Turkish troops and Syrian rebels today entered the Islamic State-held town of Al-Bab in northern Syria, as government forces also approached the jihadist bastion, a monitor said.

“Turkish forces and allied rebels in the Euphrates Shield campaign entered the western edge of the town and took control of a number of areas,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The monitor said heavy clashes were underway with IS in the town, which is the jihadist group’s last stronghold in the northern province of Aleppo.

The town has been seen as a key prize and Syrian government troops and allied forces have also been advancing towards it in a bid to wrest it from IS.

Al-Bab was besieged since Monday, when government forces advancing from the south cut off a road leading into the town. By Saturday, government forces were just 1.5 kilometres from the southern outskirts of Al-Bab, while Turkish troops and allied rebels advanced from the north, east and west.           —AFP