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Why the battle for al-Bab is pivotal in Syria

As groups fighting in Syria make headway against the Islamic State, each wants to be positioned to reap the spoils of war.
TOPSHOT - Turkish troops drive their anti-mine Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) past shepherds on September 4, 2016 on a road near the Syrian village of Tuwairan, located around 2km of al-Rai, the small border town with Turkey. 
Turkish forces and Syrian rebels expelled the Islamic State group from the last areas of the Syrian-Turkish border under their control on September 3, 2016, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. / AFP / Nazeer al-Khatib        (Photo credit should read NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/G

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — The crucial city of al-Bab finds itself directly in the line of fire of all the forces in Syria competing to control it. Each party is seeking to fortify its military position in the city to grab land as the Islamic State (IS) withdraws.

“Our troops will advance toward al-Bab city. This will be our next military target. We want to completely liberate this city," said Ahmed Sultan, deputy commander of the Army of Revolutionaries, an affiliate of the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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