Turkey prepared to retake Syria's northern strategic city
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Oct 08, 2017,
Oct 08, 2017, 0:25
Calling the operation a "new step" to establish security in Idlib, he promised Turkey would not desert civilians there.
Rebels said they were preparing to start the operation soon in Idlib province and surrounding areas, which represent Syria's most populous rebel-held area, and residents reported Turkish authorities removing sections of a border wall.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Syria and Iraq's territorial integrity with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron over the phone Saturday, according to a Turkish Presidency source.
Mr Erdogan said Turkish troops were not yet inside Idlib.
Erdogan said the operation, which has not yet seen Turkish troops cross the border into Syria, was being conducted in coordination with Russian Federation.
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.
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.
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Turkey said on Thursday that it was prepared to carry out a cross-border operation to retake Syria's northern city of Afrin when necessary.
"Now this step has been taken, and it is underway", he said, adding that Turkish forces were not yet involved and that it was a rebel operation so far. "We expect that the large-scale operation that has been prepared will be launched perhaps within the next 24 hours", the rebel said.
"When you enter a boxing match, you don't count how many punches you throw", he said.
"Are they going to hand over their weapons - we don't think this is going to be the case - or are they going to fight against the FSA and the Turkish army in the near future?" said Ahelbarra.
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.
The Syrian Observatory in the last week has repeatedly accused Syria and Russian Federation of carrying out deadly air strikes in Idlib province with heavy civilian losses. Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.