Hardline Syrian rebel coalition says Turkish peacekeepers will be treated as 'occupiers'

Hardline Syrian rebel coalition says Turkish peacekeepers will be treated as 'occupiers'
Al-Qaeda linked Tahrir al-Sham has warned Turkey against sending troops to Syria's Idlib province, following an agreement between Ankara and Moscow.
2 min read
27 June, 2017
Tahrir al-Sham has rejected Syria's 'de-escalation' zones [AFP]
A hardline Islamist Syrian rebel coalition has warned Turkey against sending troops to opposition-held Idlib province, saying Ankara's peacekeeping mission would be viewed with hostility.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham issued a statement mentioning the planned deployment of Russian and Turkish troops to Syria saying the coalition - which includes groups with links to al-Qaeda - would view this as an act of "foreign intervention".

"We will not accept any foreign intervention that divides our country," Hayat Tahrir al-Sham said in the statement.

The group again rejected the Astana peace process - with more talks due in the Kazakh capital in July - which resulted in "de-escalation zones" being established in much of Syria.

Mostafa Mahamed, an Austrialian cleric who played a leading role in al-Nusra Front before quitting when it formerly ended links with al-Qaeda, said in a tweet that "hell will break loose" if Turkey puts boots on the ground.

Turkey's President Tayyip Recep Erdogan recently announced that troops could be deployed to the opposition-held Idlib province along with Russian soldiers in a monitoring role.

These troops would be used to monitor the de-escalation zones - including Idlib province - which are unofficially under a state of ceasefire.

Deira province - which is also included in the zone - has been heavily bombed by regime forces, who have used napalm and missiles in the assault.

The monitoring plan would see Turkish troops deployed to rebel-held Idlib, Russian soldiers to central Syria and US forces in the south.

Turkey has been a long-time ally of the Syrian rebels but recently re-established strong ties with Moscow whose forces are backing Bashar al-Assad.

The Tahrir al-Sham coalition includes Fatah al-Sham and other hardline Islamist factions and have a presence in rebel-held areas of Hama and Idlib provinces.