Turkey launches military operation in Syria’s Idlib

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that Turkey is conducting a landmark “anti-terror” operation in Syria’s Idlib.

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s meeting in Turkey’s western province of Afyonkarahisar, Erdogan said “today a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, and it will continue.”

“We won’t allow a terror corridor along our Syrian border,” he told Daily Sabah, adding that the operation aims to provide Idlib’s security.

Turkish President said that the operation in Idlib is the follow-up of the Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which was launched on Aug. 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey’s border from ISIS and other terrorists.

“The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is currently carrying out the operation and our soldiers haven’t yet entered Idlib,” Erdogan said, adding that the name of the operation will be announced.

The Turkish army is backing the FSA from within Turkey’s borders, while Russian forces are providing air support to the operation, he said.

The president also underlined that Turkey would not allow separatist operations in Iraq and Syria, just as “we haven’t allowed such operations within our borders.”

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Last month, Erdogan said that Turkey would deploy troops in Syria’s northwest Idlib province as part of a so-called de-escalation agreement brokered by Russia in August.

Ankara launched Operation Euphrates Shield against Daesh last year on Aug. 24, backing FSA forces inside Syria, and recaptured several towns near its border from the terror group, including Jarablus, al-Rai, Dabiq and al-Bab.

Turkey said the operation dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist group’s dominance in Syria.

In the operation, ISIS strongholds were defeated and more than 2,000 square kilometers of territory in northern Syria was seized from them. More than 50,000 Syrian refugees were relocated back to their hometowns in those areas.

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