By Syrian Voice Staff 

AL-BAB: Commercial traffic is gradually returning to one northern Syrian town after Turkish-backed rebels expelled Islamic State militants from the area this February.

Al-Bab, located northwest of Aleppo, was the site of more than three months of clashes as the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) sought to take the town from Islamic State control. At the time, al-Bab was the last Islamic State stronghold in Aleppo province.

Al-Bab’s well-known “covered marketplace” reopened at the beginning of this month after repairs to many of the shops that were damaged during the clashes and the removal of mines left behind by the Islamic State.

Residents of al-Bab clean the town’s covered marketplace. Photo courtesy of City News Albab.

The return of customers to the market, as well as the availability of goods brought in from the nearby border with Turkey, reflect a return to normal life after two years of Islamic State control, which lasted from January 2014 to February 2017.

Al-Bab’s civil defense force searched for mines left by the Islamic State. Photo courtesy of Liwa al-Moutasem.

The FSA operation to take al-Bab was part of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, which launched last August with the goal of removing the Islamic State from territory south of the Turkish border.

Operation Euphrates Shield ended on March 28, about a month after al-Bab was captured. At the time, Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim told Turkish broadcaster NTV that the operation was “successful and is finished.”

He nonetheless acknowledged that Turkey might need to take further actions against the Islamic State. Such actions would “be as part of a new operation,” he said.

Translated by Avery Edelman