Turkish troops mass on Syria border, ready to 'enter Idlib'

Turkish troops mass on Syria border, ready to 'enter Idlib'
A convoy of Turkish army vehicles are positioned on the Syrian border, ready to enter rebel-held Idlib province as part of a Russian-Turkish agreement.
2 min read
17 September, 2017
Turkish troops have massed on the border with Syria [Getty-file photo]
Turkish army vehicles have massed on the Syria border, as troops prepare to enter rebel-held Idlib province, media have reported.

Eighteen armoured personal carriers and other military vehicles appeared to be on standby in an area close to Syria's Bab al-Hawa border crossing, Al-Jazeera reported.

The move is thought to be connected to the Astana agreement, which will see Turkish troops act as monitors in rebel-held Idlib province.

The treaty will see Syria seperated into de-escalation zones, where local ceasefires are in place either fully or partially in areas such as Idlib.

It follows the agreement reached between Turkey, Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital Astana, which was slammed by the opposition.

Yet supporters of the agreement hope it will be the first step towards peace in Syria, which has been torn apart from six years of fighting.

Opposition-backer Turkey will monitor rebel areas of Syria, while pro-regime Russia and Iran will be the guarantor for territories under control of Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Pro-regime forces have clawed back territories from the rebels over the past year with Moscow and Tehran's assistance, including Aleppo in December - Syria's largest city.

The Syrian regime has rejected the presence of Turkish troops in Idlib, fearing Ankara is looking to carve out territories in the north of the country.

"These agreements on de-escalation zones do not grant any legitimacy to a Turkish presence on Syrian territory," Syria's foreign ministry told SANA state news agency.

"It is an illegitimate presence" but said the agreement "is temporary".

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - a rebel alliance linked to al-Qaeda - has rejected the Astana agreement and is said to be frosty about the idea of Turkish troops in Idlib province, which is now dominated by the group.

The movement had forced Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham fighters out of Idlib and into Turkey.