News Worms
News Worms


Erdogan announces "serious" operation in northern Syria

Erdogan announces

"We are now in the process of taking further steps towards securing Idlib after expanding the Euphrates Shield Operation".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday "a serious operation" was beginning in Syria's Idlib and a Syrian rebel official said his group was preparing to enter the area with the backing of Turkish forces.

Earlier Saturday, Erdogan said the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is now engaged in operations to secure Idlib while Turkish soldiers are "not there yet".

The Turkish army is backing the FSA from within Turkey's borders, while Russian forces are providing air support to the operation, he said.

Turkish President said that the operation in Idlib is the follow-up of the Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which was launched on August 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey's border from the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorists.

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

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitor said Turkish army cranes had begun removing sections of the security wall Turkey has built on the border in preparation for an incursion.

"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.

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

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

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.

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. Russian Federation is providing air support.

The Russian defence ministry said Saturday some 120 Islamic State group fighters and 60 foreign mercenaries were killed in a series of Russian air strikes in Syria over the past 24 hours. Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

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