Erdogan: FSA in New Idlib Operation

Erdogan: FSA in New Idlib Operation

Erdogan: FSA in New Idlib Operation

Several mortar shells landed near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, believed to be fired from the Turkish side of the border.

Commenting on the possible Russia-Turkey coordination in Idlib, Orhan said, "Russian forces could deploy along the external perimeter of the de-escalation zone, with Russian aviation likely to bomb al-Nusra Front positions".

"Today a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, and it will continue", Erdogan said at the ruling Justice and Development Party's meeting in Turkey's western province of Afyonkarahisar.

Exchanges of fire were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, although social media reports of Turkish and Syrian rebel troops entering Idlib province were false, the monitor said.

NTV reported that Erdogan told reporters after his speech that Russian Federation was backing the operation from the air, while Turkish soldiers were supporting it from inside Turkish borders.

While the Nusra front was formed as an off-shoot of al Qaeda, the militia changed its name and denounced its allianceto the terror network a year ago, but the separation has been dismissed by many experts as largely superficial.

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U.S. -Turkish tensions have risen over U.S. military support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an extension of the banned PKK, which has waged an insurgency for three decades in southeast Turkey. "We have to extend our hand to them, and that is the step that was taken and will continue", Erdogan said.

The campaign against HTS has been the subject of weeks of speculation, and is linked to plans to implement a so-called "de-escalation zone" in Idlib province and surrounding areas.

Fighting broke out on the border of Turkey and the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday ahead of a Turkish advance into the region.

Turkey has long opposed any political transition under him, but Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war shored up the president after years of Turkish and USA insistence that he must go.

The FSA units are expected to cross from Turkey into Syria late Saturday, a commander from one of the participating rebel groups told CNN.

The illegitimate referendum saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including ethnically mixed Kirkuk and Mosul - vote on whether or not to declare independence.

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