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Turkish President Announces 'Serious Operation' In Northern Syria

Turkish President Announces 'Serious Operation' In Northern Syria”

The operation follows a deal between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's allies Russian Federation and Iran to impose a "de-escalation" zone in Idlib and surrounding areas to reduce warfare there, an agreement that did not include Tahrir al-Sham.

Turkey's Syria policy "may be serving other goals beyond Idlib", said Hakki Uygur, an analyst at the Center for Iranian Studies in Ankara. Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported that Turkey fired seven howitzer rounds into Idlib on Sunday.

A day earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey was conducting an anti-terror operation in Syria's Idlib.

Meanwhile, the HTS said entering Idlib by the Turkish-backed rebels "will not be a picnic". "He is a famous commander, and his militant group is allied with the militants of the Al-Nusra front but only in their fight against the regime", he said.

"Turkish forces are not on Syrian soil yet", Rami Abdulrahman told Al Jazeera. A Kurdish militiaman in Afrin confirmed that four Turkish vehicles were deployed in the area.

A rebel commander participating in the operation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP in Beirut that "all the rebel groups" who took part in Euphrates Shield are participating in the latest operation.

"We will absolutely not allow the creation of a terror corridor along our borders", Erdogan, whose country is well known for backing anti-government militants throughout the war In Syria, said.

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"We have to help our brothers who arrived in Idlib after fleeing Aleppo".

The spokesman noted that the establishment of a de-escalation zone in rebel-held Idlib Province would start in the coming days.

Turkey has also pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen over the July 2016 putsch, in which more than 240 people were killed.

The US maintains that the group is still linked to al Qaeda, however.

The remarks came as reports emerged of deployment of Turkish commando units along western Syrian border.

It is the regular target of regime and Russian air strikes, with Moscow alleging this week that the group's leader Abu Mohamed Al Jolani was seriously injured in a raid, a claim the group denied. The strike also caused a fire in an area store. The Observatory put the death toll at 11 saying it was likely to climb as search and rescue operations continued.



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