Turkey starting serious operation in Idlib: Erdogan

08 October, 2017, 00:29 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Turkey prepared to retake Syria's northern strategic city

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the current situation in Syria and Iraq via phone on Saturday.

Turkey boosted its military presence along its border with Syria after agreeing with Russian Federation and Iran to work towards a cease-fire in the region.

It was earlier reported that Turkey completed preparations for new military operations in Syria and military operations in Idlib may start in the coming days.

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

Erdogan said the operation, part of a de-escalation deal agreed between Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation, will involve Free Syrian Army groups crossing into Idlib supported by Turkish soldiers from inside Turkey's borders.

The province is dominated by jihadist groups and Mr Erdogan has said he will not allow a "terror corridor" on the Turkish border.

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate.

In July Tahrir al-Sham seized land around the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, bringing much of the frontier area inside Syrian under its control.


Appearing to confirm this, Erdogan said: "Idlib is a region where we will provide protection in the inside and Russian Federation on the outside".

UPFRONT: Has the Syrian opposition lost the war?

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 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".

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow's military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.

Syrian rebel officials from factions which have fought alongside Turkey in Euphrates Shield said they were preparing to enter the area with the backing of Turkish forces.

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

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