Turkey-backed rebels close in on IS-held Syrian city al-Bab: Turkish PM

November 15, 2016 4:26 AM EST

Rebel fighters gather during their advance towards the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab, northern Syria October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey-backed rebels are nearing the Syrian city of al-Bab and the area will be cleared of Islamic State militants soon, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday.

Yildirim made the comment to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament in a speech shown live on state broadcaster TRT Haber.

The rebels were poised to begin an assault to drive Islamic State from al-Bab, two of their commanders said on Monday, a battle that could also prompt new fighting with Kurdish groups competing for the area.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by David Dolan; editing by John Stonestreet)

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