Turkey advances into Syria's Idlib in major offensive against jihadists

Posted October 09, 2017

He also vowed support for "our brothers in Idlib", who left Aleppo for Idlib, apparently referring to militants who left the city freed by the Syrian army in December 2016 as a result of an agreement backed by Russian Federation. "He is a famous commander, and his militant group is allied with the militants of the Al-Nusra front but only in their fight against the regime", he said.

A successful mission would help Assad focus on fighting Islamic State in eastern Syria, Emre Ersen, an analyst at Istanbul's Marmara University, said at the conference.

Erdogan said Sunday that Turkey would not allow a "terror corridor" by the Kurdish militia aiming to link its territories from eastern Syria to the Mediterranean.

The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is bracing to enter Syria's northwestern province of Idlib in the next hours, activists said Saturday.

"Today a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, and this will continue".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, May 30, 2017.

"We are taking new steps to ensure security in Idlib".

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Idlib is largely held by the Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which was not part of the talks and has rejected the implementation of a de-escalation zone.

Turkish media reports that a convoy of at least 12 vehicles, carrying 12 tanks and two bulldozers, was heading for the Cilvegozu crossing across Syria's Bab al-Hawa border gate.

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.

Despite being on opposite sides of the conflict, Russia and Turkey have been working together intensely since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under enormous pressure from her rivals to sharpen tone towards Turkey, particularly due to the arrests of around 10 German citizens, including a reporter and a human rights activist, for alleged support for terrorist organisations.

According to the agreement on the Idlib de-escalation zone, Russia's military policemen will maintain security outside Idlib and Turkey will deploy its troops inside Idlib.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Observatory, said that the rebel alliance was sending reinforcements to the border area.