Erdogan Launches Idlib Offensive, Rebel Factions Prepare to Fight Nusra Front

Geneva Matthews
October 9, 2017

The skirmishes come as the Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels of the Free Syrian Army are bracing to enter Idlib to defeat the Al Qaeda-linked groups, as part of a deal struck recently with Russian Federation in the recent sixth round of Astana talks on Syria.

The action in Idlib comes after guarantor countries - Russia, Turkey, and Iran - agreed to establish de-escalation zones in Syria during a meeting in Kazakh capital Astana on May 4.

"In fact, the resolution of the Idlib situation would mean the untangling of the Syrian knot", Mahalli said. "Today there's a serious operation in Idlib and this will continue, because we have to extend a hand to our brothers in Idlib", the president said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the current situation in Syria and Iraq via phone on Saturday. Turkish soldiers have not yet crossed the border, he added.

Turkey has been amassing troops on the border to support the effort, with several of its top generals inspecting the preparations, the military said.

He pointed out that bringing peace to Syria requires both military and political actions, and now there are three countries, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, that can resolve the Syrian crisis.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Observatory, said that the rebel alliance was sending reinforcements to the border area. Turkey has supported and backed rebels that seek the toppling of Assad.

Much of Idlib is controlled by the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham alliance, spearheaded by a former al Qaeda affiliate that changed its name past year from the Nusra Front.

In a statement, the groups said that attacking Idlib would "not be a picnic" and added that "the lions of jihad and martyrdom are waiting to pounce".

The de-escalation zones will be patrolled by military observers, but Idlib is by far the most significant.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham took over the province in July, forcing Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army and Ahrar al-Sham fighters to flee over the border to Turkey.

Russia, an ally of Assad, is backing the operation from the air, he said. However, both Iran and Russian Federation are chief supporters of Assad and have strengthened his control over Syria.

Idlib and neighbouring parts of northwest Syria represent the country's biggest and most populous rebel stronghold, home to more than two million people, many of them refugees from other regions.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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