Turkey advances into Syria's Idlib in major offensive against jihadists

09 Октября, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Phil Peters
  • Turkey's Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın

Speaking Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the de-escalation zones would be applied in Idlib with "Russia outside, Turkey inside" with Syrian opposition fighters it backs.

"In fact, the resolution of the Idlib situation would mean the untangling of the Syrian knot", Mahalli said. The zone would be monitored by Turkish soldiers.

The illegitimate referendum saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including ethnically mixed Kirkuk and Mosul - vote on whether or not to declare independence.

The FSA units are expected to cross from Turkey into Syria late Saturday, a commander from one of the participating rebel groups told CNN.

A Syrian rebel commander told AFP on Saturday that the Ankara-backed operation in Idlib aimed to drive Tahrir Al Sham from the entire province.

Tahrir al-Sham has pledged to keep fighting Syrian government forces and their allies, casting doubt on the de-escalation agreement, but Ankara has worked to lure militants from it and two groups have defected from the jihadist alliance. At the same time, the Turkish military could launch an operation within Idlib.

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Tahrir al-Sham is spearheaded by the former Nusra Front, which was al Qaeda's Syrian branch until a year ago, when it changed its name and broke formal allegiance to the global movement founded by Osama bin Laden.

Russia's defence ministry on Saturday said its forces killed about 120 ISIL (also known as ISIS) fighters and more than 60 foreign mercenaries in a series of air raids in al-Mayadeen and near the border town of Al Bukamal, also in Deir Az Zor.

Airstrikes were reported in parts of Idlib on Saturday, follows a month of heavy bombardment of the province by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime killing scores of civilians.

"The process, which began with a step yesterday and started to be applied this morning, is continuing as you know and that effort is continuing in a calm way without problems" Erdogan said, speaking in the western province of Afyonkarahisar at the closing ceremony of his ruling party's conference.

Idlib's population has ballooned to at least two million as thousands of civilians and combatants have left areas seized by the Syrian army in other parts of the country, with the help of Russian jets and Iran-backed militias.

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