Shells fall into Syria's Idlib province from Turkey

Posted October 09, 2017

On Saturday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Syrian rebels backed by Turkish forces would launch an operation in that area, which is mostly controlled by Tahrir al-Sham.

The president later told reporters the operation was led by Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and that the Turkish army was not yet operating there.

"There's a serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it will continue", Erdogan said in a speech to the members of his AK Party on Saturday, adding that Ankara would not allow a "terror corridor" on the border with the war-torn country.

Relations between the two countries have took a turn for the worse more recently following Erdogan's crackdown on political dissidents, some of whom are German citizens, in the wake of a failed putsch a year ago.

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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.

Pro-Turkey Syrian rebels are also preparing for an operation to oust HTS jihadists from Idlib province.

Turkey has also pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen over the July 2016 putsch, in which more than 240 people were killed.

Turkish forces have clashed with Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham fighters in Idlib province on the Syria-Turkey border, activists and a monitor reported.

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

Turkish military has been on the move in Turkey's Hatay province on the border with Syria.

Turkey said on Thursday that it was prepared to carry out a cross-border operation to retake Syria's northern city of Afrin when necessary.

Many Syrians had fled to Idlib from the neighbouring Aleppo province, which was rocked by heavy fighting past year, and Turkey meant to support them, Erdoğan said.

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"Russian and Iranian observers will be in some regions here, and we will have our observers inside Idlib". Russian Federation is providing air support.

[3] Aljazeera.com. (2017). Erdogan: Turkey backing FSA rebels in new Idlib push. Turkey has supported and backed rebels that seek the toppling of Assad.

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