Next Stop Idlib: Erdogan Announces Turkey's New 'Serious' Operation in Syria


Armed forces of Turkey and Russian Federation will ensure safety in the Syrian city of Idlib, Turkish media outlets quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying October 7.

The group is not party to an agreement on setting up a de-escalation zone in Idlib agreed during Syrian peace talks in Astana brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

"We intend to further enhance our steps in providing safety to Idlib now".

"Today there's a serious operation in Idlib and it will continue, because we have to extend a hand to our brothers in Idlib and to our brothers who arrived in Idlib", Erdogan said.

Erdogan said the operation, part of a de-escalation deal agreed between Turkey, Iran and Russian Federation, will involve Free Syrian Army groups crossing into Idlib supported by Turkish soldiers from inside Turkey's borders.

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.

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 goal of the operation is to liberate Idlib fully from Tahrir al-Sham".

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Erdogan, who was speaking his AK Party's 26th Consultation and Assessment meeting said that, "We will never allow the formation of a terror corridor along our Syrian border".

Turkey has been moving military equipment to its border with Syria since June 21.

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.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Gaziantep near the Turkey-Syria border, said the operation was "definitely a significant move by the army" but more details were needed.

Turkey has been one of the biggest supporters of rebels fighting Assad during the six-and-a-half year war, but its focus has evolved from ousting him to securing its border.

Asked whether the Idlib operation would be similar to Euphrates Shield, Erdogan replied: "When you enter the boxing ring you don't count your punches".