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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Erdogan says Syrian "rebels" taking ‘new steps’ to secure Idlib

Syrian "rebel fighters"
Syrian "rebel fighters" are launching a major military operation, backed by Turkish forces from inside Turkey, in a northern Syrian province largely controlled by jihadist "militants:, Turkish President Erdogan said on Saturday.

The "rebels" said they were preparing to start the operation in Idlib soon, and residents reported Turkish authorities removing sections of a border wall.

The operation, part of a deal between Turkey, Iran and Russia to reduce warfare between "rebels" and the government, appears aimed at crushing the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which has taken over much of Idlib province and northwestern Syria.

The three countries have supported opposing sides in Syria's six-year conflict, with Turkey backing "rebels" fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, while Russian and Iranian military support helped Assad drive them back.

  •  "Russia will be protecting"

Erdogan's comments, however, suggested Russia and Turkey would fight together against Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by the former al Qaeda affiliate in Syria that changed its name last year from the Nusra Front.

"There's a serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it will continue," Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party, adding that Turkey would not allow a "terror corridor" on its border with Syria.

  • "For now Free Syria Army is carrying out the operation there," Erdogan said. "Russia will be protecting outside the borders (of the Idlib region) and we will handle inside," he said.

"Russia is supporting the operation from the air, and our armed forces from inside Turkey's borders," he added.

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