Turkish, Russian armed forces to ensure safety in Syria's Idlib: Erdogan

Turkish, Russian armed forces to ensure safety in Syria's Idlib: Erdogan

There was no immediate Turkish comment on the reports.

Last week, a US consulate employee in Istanbul was arrested on charges of links to a cleric blamed for last year's failed coup, a move condemned by Washington as baseless and damaging to ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

The al-Qaida-linked group said its fighters and suicide bombers are awaiting the fighters of the Euphrates Shield.

"We are taking new steps to ensure security in Idlib".

IS seized vast areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The firefights come a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for military intervention in Idlib province, where HTS militants drove out Ankara-backed rebels in July.

The move follows talks which took place in Astana and brokered deals aiming at ending the Syrian conflict.

"There's a serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it will continue", Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party.

Turkish troops are expected to be deployed inside Idlib with Russians stationed around the city, and the collaboration emphasizes the closer ties between Erdogan and Putin, a relationship viewed with concern by Turkey's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

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Ousting HTS forces from the area will be needed to allow the arrival of Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces to implement a de-escalation zone.

"We can now say that all military actions are being coordinated by these two parties", Oytun Orhan, an expert on the Middle East, told Sputnik Turkey.

Military equipment has been deployed in Turkey's south-central province of Kilis, which borders Syrian territories controlled by YPG and PYD.

The Hurriyet daily said ultimately Turkey would ensure security in Idlib city and Russian Federation in the surrounding area.

Deploying Russian and Iranian observers could potentially be a controversial issue, considering that the Syrian opposition, backed by Turkey, views the two countries as enemies due to their support for the Syrian government.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is now engaged in the area which is under the control of anti-regime armed groups and some opposition groups. It said the operation was yet to formally begin.

Turkey launched an incursion into Syria further east of Idlib past year, backing Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the Euphrates Shield operation against Islamic State and Kurdish groups.

"When you enter a boxing match, you don't count how many punches you will throw", Erdogan said. Turkish soldiers have not yet crossed the border, he added. "The goal of the operation is to liberate Idlib fully from Tahrir al-Sham".

President Erdogan refused to provide details on the extent of Turkish military deployment in Syria.

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