Turkey backs Syrian rebels for "serious operation" in Idlib

The de-escalation zones will be patrolled by military observers but Idlib is by far the most significant

The de-escalation zones will be patrolled by military observers but Idlib is by far the most significant

Elements of Turkish Armed Forces, also known as TSK, will be positioned within the borders of the tension reduction zone determined for Idlib.

"We will continue to take other initiatives after the Idlib operation", he added.

"The Free Syrian Army, with support from Turkish troops, is in full readiness to enter the area but until this moment there is no movement", said Sejari, the Liwa al-Mutasem official.

Responding to journalists' questions after the televised speech, Erdogan said Turkish soldiers were not yet in Idlib and the military was backing Free Syrian Army forces from within Turkey's borders.

The move comes as Turkey along with Russian Federation and Iran prepare to set up a so-called "de-escalation" zone in Idlib in line with accords in peace talks in Astana aimed at ending the Syrian civil war.

The agreement came despite Russian Federation and Iran backing President Assad and Turkey wanting him gone.

Currently, Idlib is mostly controlled by Tahrir al-Sham, a militant group led by al-Nusra Front terrorist group (banned in Russia), al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate.

The operation is part of a de-escalation deal agreed between Turkey, Iran, and Russian Federation, and will involve Syrian rebel groups crossing into Idlib supported by Turkish soldiers from inside Turkey.

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Erdogan said Turkey would not desert civilians in Idlib and would not allow a "terror corridor" in northern Syria.

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"We wish them luck", Bahçeli also said.

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.

Air raids on insurgent-held towns in that area in recent days were intense, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported. Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

Turkey conducted operation "Euphrates Shield" in neighbouring Aleppo province earlier this year against so-called Islamic States and Kurdish militia. "We expect that the large-scale operation that has been prepared will be launched perhaps within the next 24 hours", the rebel said.

"The fighters number in the thousands and there are Turkish soldiers participating", he added, without giving further details.

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