Turkish President Announces 'Serious Operation' In Northern Syria

Turkish President Announces 'Serious Operation' In Northern Syria

The military operations are expected to be held jointly with troops of the Free Syrian Army.

It was earlier reported that Turkey completed preparations for new military operations in Syria and military operations in Idlib may start in the coming days.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Gaziantep near the Turkey-Syria border, said the operation was "definitely a significant move by the army" but more details were needed.

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.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced Turkey is conducting a "serious" operation against extremist groups in Syria's northwestern Idlib province with anti-Assad rebels.

Erdogan said many Syrians had fled to Idlib from neighbouring Aleppo province, which was rocked by heavy fighting a year ago, and Turkey was not going to let them down.

The agreement came despite Russian Federation and Iran backing President Assad and Turkey wanting him gone.

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.

The province is dominated by jihadist groups and Mr Erdogan has said he will not allow a "terror corridor" on the Turkish border. "The goal of the operation is to liberate Idlib fully from Tahrir al-Sham".

Erdogan said Turkey would not desert civilians in Idlib and would not allow a "terror corridor" in northern Syria. It said the operation was yet to formally begin.

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Idlib's population has ballooned to at least two million as thousands of civilians and combatants have left areas in other parts of the country seized by the Syrian army with the help of Russian jets and Iran-backed militias.

"When you enter a boxing match, you don't count how many punches you throw", he said.

"We wish them luck", Bahçeli also said.

Asked how far Turkey might go in deploying troops inside Syria, Erdogan declined to give details.