Erdogan: Turkey backing FSA rebels in new Idlib push

Where's Idlib? What area is it

Turkish President said that the operation in Idlib is the follow-up of the Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which was launched on August 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey's border from the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorists.

Turkey said on Thursday that it was prepared to carry out a cross-border operation to retake Syria's northern city of Afrin when necessary.

Speaking at AK party's camp in Afyonkarahisar, President Erdogan said, "We are now striving to move forward with a new step towards ensuring safety of Idlib in field of Euphrates shield operation".

Turkish forces are preparing to enter Idlib province to support rebel forces opposing both the Syrian regime and insurgents, the Anadolu Agency reported.

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

During his speech, Erdoğan said that the operation in Idlib is the follow-up of the Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which was launched on August 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey's border from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and stop the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from merging its Kobane and Afrin cantons.

Erdogan said that many Syrians had fled to Idlib from Aleppo.

The incursion is being carried out after Iran and Russian Federation, which back President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which supports the rebels, agreed last month to reduce fighting between insurgents and the government in the northwest.




Idlib and surrounding areas of northwest Syria are among the largest bastions for rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but have increasingly fallen under the sway of militant factions.

Russia, an ally of Assad, is backing the operation from the air, he said.

UPFRONT: Has the Syrian opposition lost the war?

Mr Erdogan said Turkish troops were not yet inside Idlib.

Since early this year, it has battled other rebel groups in Idlib and other parts of Syria, while the government has mostly focused on the war against Islamic State in the east.

It said in the statement that Idlib would "not be a picnic" for them and added "the lions of jihad and martyrdom are waiting to pounce".

Erdoğan was also asked about whether the method to be used in the Idlib operation will be similar to the Euphrates Shield Operation.

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