Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the final goal of a Turkish incursion into northern Syria is to clear a 5,000sq-km "safe zone", vowing to press on towards ISIL's self-declared capital in the country, Raqqa.
Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies had entered the centre of the ISIL bastion Al Bab, Erdogan said on Sunday, adding that its capture was just a "matter of time"
"After Al Bab is about to be over, the period following that will be Manbij and Raqqa," Erdogan told journalists before his departure on an official visit to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
"We shared our thoughts with the new US administration and CIA and we will follow the developments in line with our stance," he added.
"The ultimate goal is to establish a safe zone by cleansing a 4,000 to 5,000sq km area from the terrorists."
ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and is also known as ISIS, captured Raqqa in northern Syria in March 2013.
Erdogan said ISIL fighters had begun deserting Al Bab, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish troops have yet to enter the town's centre.
The UK-based war monitor, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said Turkish forces had advanced into Al Bab from the west in recent days, and now controlled around 10 percent of the town and all of its western suburbs.