Turkish troops prepare to enter Idlib province, Syria

09 October, 2017, 00:39 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Turkey's Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın

On its website, it said the Turkish army had fired artillery in support of the allied Syrian rebels. "He is a famous commander, and his militant group is allied with the militants of the Al-Nusra front but only in their fight against the regime", he said.

"The Syrian regime has allowed northwest Syria to become a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists that not only threaten the Syrian people and regional security but also support global terrorist networks", Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Daily Sabah.

The Syrian Observatory in the last week has repeatedly accused Syria and Russian Federation of carrying out deadly air strikes in Idlib province with heavy civilian losses.

Erdogan said in an earlier speech that a major military operation was underway in the Syria's northwest province of Idlib, which Free Syrian Army rebel groups said they were preparing to enter with Turkish backing.

Rebel groups taking part in the operation - part of the Euphrates Shield campaign that Turkey has backed with armour and troops in another part of Syria to the east of Idlib since past year - said on Saturday they expected it to start very soon.

"At the moment the Free Syrian Army is operating there (inside Syria), our troops are not there yet", Erdogan said, quoted by the Dogan news agency. "There is a serious operation in Idlib today and it is going to continue", the president said.

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The main objective of the operation is to establish a "de-escalation" zone in the province of Idlib.

Turkish media reports that a convoy of at least 12 vehicles, carrying 12 tanks and two bulldozers, was heading for the Cilvegozu crossing across Syria's Bab al-Hawa border gate.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said on Sunday that the Turkish troops exchanged fire with the rebel alliance near the village of Kafr Lusin.

Back in May, the fourth round of the intra-Syrian talks, held in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, resulted in an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones across Syria, with Russia, Iran, and Turkey serving as guarantor states. He also said that Russian and Iranian observers would also be deployed in some areas, without providing further details.

The FSA units are expected to cross from Turkey into Syria late Saturday, a commander from one of the participating rebel groups told CNN.

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