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Turkey's General Staff Announces Start of Military Operation in Syria's Idlib

© Photo : Hikmet DurgunJarablus
Jarablus - Sputnik International
Two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkish military will help Free Syrian Army rebels in the newly-launched anti-terror offensive, Turkey has announced the official start of the operation in Syria's Idlib currently controlled by al-Nusra Front terrorists.

The Turkish General Staff has announced the start of the operation in Syria's Idlib, adding that reconnaissance activities are underway, posts for control of the ceasefire are being established.

"According to the agreements reached in Astana on the creation of a de-escalation zone in Idlib, the Turkish Armed Forces as one of the countries-guarantors [of the ceasefire in Syria] started a reconnaissance operation to establish posts for the monitoring of the ceasefire on October 8," the Turkish General Staff said in a statement obtained by Sputnik.

Later in the day, the Daily Sabah reported that Turkish military units have already crossed the border into Syria's Idlib province. The operation is said to enhance ceasefire regime, end violence and clashes, deliver humanitarian aid to those in need and ensure favorable conditions for the peaceful settlement of the ongoing conflict.

The deployement comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara plans to deploy the country's soldiers to Syria's Idlib, where the Free Syrian Army rebel fighters backed by Ankara have launched an operation. A day later, Erdogan said that "if we didn't take our measures, bombs would fall on our cities."

Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016. Picture taken August 24, 2016. - Sputnik International
Next Stop Idlib: Erdogan Announces Turkey's New 'Serious' Operation in Syria
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 Syrian affiliate. The group is not party to the agreement on setting up a de-escalation zone in Idlib agreed upon during the Syrian peace talks in Astana

Commenting on the Idlib operation on Sunday, the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, in his turn, said that Ankara's actions in Idlib are coordinated with Moscow. The Russian Defense Ministry hasn't yet commented on Turkey's plans for an operation in Idlib, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week that Russia is ready to support armed groups fighting al-Nusra Front in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone.

The Idlib operation is the second Turkish military operation on the Syrian soil. From August 2016 until March 2017, the Euphrates Shield campaign by the Turkish army conducted also with the FSA rebel fighters was conducted aiming to clear the Syrian border town of Jarablus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group.

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