Main force of Turkish troops enter Syria's Idlib

13 October, 2017, 14:44 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • First convoy of Turkish military op enters Syria's Idlib: witness and rebels

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed late Thursday a Turkish military convoy entered Idlib before heading towards the western part of Aleppo province.

About 50 vehicles moved into Idlib province towards the western end of Turkey's border with Syria in an advance agreed with Russian Federation and Iran as part of plans to try to pacify the region.

A convoy of approximately 30 Turkish army armoured vehicles and 100 troops entered the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on Thursday night, a statement said.

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), a group led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, which ousted more moderate rebels in recent months. "Tonight, Turkish Armed Forces jointly with the FSA units started an operation in Idlib", the president said.

The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib but also parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions.

Turkey has supported rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the war.

Turkish army armored vehicles drive at the Syria-Turkey border on on October 8, 2017.

"It remains to be seen what happens to the fighters who control Idlib province".

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the PKK, a Kurdish group inside Turkey that has been waging armed insurgency against Ankara for three decades.

However, the deployment is also meant to rein in the Kurdish YPG militia, which holds the adjacent Afrin region, a senior rebel official involved in the operation said.

Moustafa Sejari, a senior official in rebel group Liwa Al Moutassem taking part in the operation, said on Twitter that the Turkish deployment was meant to "protect the region from bombing and to cut the path of (Kurdish) separatists".

Last year, Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation, an incursion into northern Syria alongside Syrian rebel groups to take territory on the frontier from Islamic State. He said that Turkey plans to further enhance steps in providing safety in Idlib.

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