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Syria crisis : Turkey deploys military equipment in Idlib

Syria crisis : Turkey deploys military equipment in Idlib

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday announced a new operation in the northern Syrian province of Idlib to drive out an al Qaeda splinter group before the establishment of a de-escalation zone there.

Turkey said on Saturday that it and Syrian rebel groups it backs are starting a military operation in Syria's Idlib, where a jihadist alliance is blocking efforts to impose a truce between insurgents and the Syrian government.

"Russia is supporting the operation from the air, and our armed forces from inside Turkey's borders", Erdogan added.

Already tense relations took a turn for the worse after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan launched a crackdown on his opponents following a failed coup attempt past year, Reuters reported.

Last month, Turkey agreed with Iran and Russian Federation to establish de-escalation zones in northwestern Syrian province as part of the Astana peace deal.

The Turkish foreign minister said late Saturday Turkey aims to prevent conflict in Syria's northwestern Idlib. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated in August previous year that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.

The operation is led by Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army rebels. Turkey has threatened to clear the province of Kurdish forces that it regards as belonging to a terrorist group with links to the PKK, which has long battled for autonomy in Turkey's southeast.

"We will never allow a terror corridor along our borders in Syria".

He said if Turkey had not acted "bombs would fall on our cities".

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.

Despite months of relative calm in Idlib, Syrian regime and Russian forces have in recent weeks carried out air raids across the province, killing dozens of civilians, according to the Observatory.

The Turkish army was opening passages enough for the entry of military vehicles into Idlib.

By joining the Idlib mission, Turkey is "de facto agreeing to the transition of power for Assad", Talha Kose, an analyst with the Ankara-based Foundation for Political and Social Research, said at a conference on Syria in Istanbul on Thursday.

Idlib is the last remaining area in northern Syria where anti-Assad rebel groups have a foothold.

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