Turkey prepared to retake Syria's northern strategic city

Marsha Scott
October 8, 2017

"We intend to further enhance our steps in providing safety to Idlib now".

"The Free Syrian Army ( FSA) is now carrying out the operation and our soldiers haven't yet entered Idlib", Erdogan said, adding that the name of the operation will be announced.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara-backed Free Syria Army rebels have launched a major operation in northwestern Syria against former al-Qaeda linked fighters controlling the region.

Last month, Turkey agreed with Iran and Russian Federation to establish de-escalation zones in northwestern Syrian province as part of the Astana peace deal.

It seems aimed at curbing the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, Syria's strongest jihadist group apart from Islamic State, and at securing Turkey's frontier.

"We will absolutely not allow the creation of a terror corridor along our borders", said Erdogan in his speech.

The operation is part of a de-escalation deal agreed between Turkey, Iran, and Russian Federation, and will involve Syrian rebel groups crossing into Idlib supported by Turkish soldiers from inside Turkey.

The operation is led by Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army rebels.

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Earlier this week, sources from Turkey-backed opposition in Idlib, who spoke to TRT World on condition of anonymity, said that Iranian observers will be positioned along the southern borders of Idlib to create a practical buffer zone between Syrian regime forces and the opposition forces.

"We have to wait and see what the military planners of Russia, Iran and Turkey come up with, particularly when it comes to maintaining troops on the ground", he said.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Gaziantep near the Turkey-Syria border, said the operation was "definitely a significant move by the army" but more details were needed.

It has been a formidable military force since early in the war, when it transitioned from bomb attacks in cities to guerrilla conflict with the Syrian army, fighting alongside many other factions.

Erdoğan was also asked about whether the method to be used in the Idlib operation will be similar to the Euphrates Shield Operation.

It said in the statement that Idlib would "not be a picnic" for them and added "the lions of jihad and martyrdom are waiting to pounce".

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.

Two waves of air strikes on Idlib killed at least 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, a Britain-based monitoring group said on Saturday.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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