February 22, 2018

Erdogan says Turkey backing FSA move on Idlib

09 October 2017, 12:24 | Rufus Hill

Turkey prepared to retake Syria's northern strategic city

Tehran eyeing ‘new era’ in ties with Turkey Officials

"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 worldwide terrorist networks", Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Daily Sabah.

Many of mercenaries came from the former Soviet Union, Tunisia and Egypt, according to the ministry. Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported that Turkey fired seven howitzer rounds into Idlib on Sunday.

"There are 800 FSA fighters now in a military camp near Reyhanli inside Turkey". He later resurfaced in northern Syria as the commander of a group of foreign fighters and became a senior leader within IS.

There was no immediate Turkish comment on the reports.

Tahrir Al Sham, which is listed by the United States and others as a "terrorist" group, counts an estimated 10,000 fighters among its ranks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

HTS on Saturday warned FSA units against participating in the Turkish-backed operation.

Meanwhile, Turkish military vehicles crossed the Syrian border into Idlib yesterday, a local resident and a local rebel said, after Ankara announced an operation by rebel groups in the area, which is controlled by rival jihadist alliance Tahrir al-Sham.

Erdogan told reporters after the meeting that Russian Federation supports the operation from the air while supported by Turkish soldiers from within the Turkish border. "Today, a very serious operation is ongoing in Idlib and this will continue", Erdogan said in a televised speech in the western city of Afyon.

Turkey launched an incursion into Syria further east of Idlib past year, backing Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the Euphrates Shield operation against Islamic State and Kurdish groups.

After his talks with Erdogan in Astana on September 28, Putin said that Moscow and Ankara had reaffirmed readiness to implement the final agreements reached in mid-September in Astana about four de-escalation zones, including the largest one in Idlib.

Erdogan, who was speaking his AK Party's 26th Consultation and Assessment meeting said that, "We will never allow the formation of a terror corridor along our Syrian border".

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.

He pointed out that bringing peace to Syria requires both military and political actions, and now there are three countries, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, that can resolve the Syrian crisis.

"The amendments to the FTA were harmonized last week and will become official during the upcoming visit of the Turkish state and business delegation to Serbia", Cadez said.

"For now the Free Syrian Army is carrying out the operation there", he said.

Asked whether the Idlib operation would be similar to Euphrates Shield, Erdogan replied: "When you enter the boxing ring you don't count your punches". He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Turkish soldiers have not yet crossed the border, he added. Arabic reads, "Jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham inside Abu Dali village after liberating it".

At least 11 civilians, including two children, were on Sunday killed in air strikes on a market in northwestern Syria, a monitor said.

Idlib is the last remaining area in northern Syria where anti-Assad rebel groups have a foothold. "If you make a step toward us, we will make two toward you", Cavusoglu said.

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