Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the launch of a new military operation in Idlib province, Syria, with air support from Russia. It is a continuation of the “Euphrates Shield” campaign, the Turkish military campaign that went from August 2016 to last March.
Speaking at a meeting of his party, the AKP, the Turkish President explained that the operation aims to “assure the safety of Idlib” and that “other actions could follow.” For now, Turkish soldiers have not set foot yet on Syrian territory. “ELS is currently carrying out the operation and our troops are not there,” Erdogan said, referring to the men of the so-called Syrian Free Army trained and equipped by Ankara for years against Damascus.
Some Turkish military units, “special forces” according to the Anadolu agency, are still deployed along the border, particularly at Reyhanli, in the Hatay province. Turkish soldiers will install observation towers and will monitor the truce between Syria’s ruling forces and those of Hay’at Tahrir at Sham — the front led by a Nusra (al Qaeda) that controls most Idlib province — under the agreement reached at the last round of inter-Syrian talks on de-escalation areas held in Astana between Turkey, Russia and Iran.