Turkish troops enter Syria's Idlib province for 'surveillance mission'

Turkish troops enter Syria's Idlib province for 'surveillance mission'
Turkish troops have entered Syria's Idlib province following weeks of speculation of intervention by Ankara and allied Syrian opposition forces.
2 min read
09 October, 2017
Turkish troops have reportedly entered Idlib province [Anadolu]

Turkish troops have entered Syria's Idlib to carry out reconnaissance missions in the rebel-held province, the military said on Monday.

The announcement follows weeks of speculation that the Turkish military and allied Syrian opposition forces will enter the province, which is mostly controlled by the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

"The Turkish armed forces began reconnaissance activities on 8 October (Sunday) to establish surveillance posts as part of the operation to be carried out in Idlib province," the armed forces said in a statement.

Some media sources suggested that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Ankara had reached an agreement to allow Turkish troops to enter the northern Syrian province.

It follows reports on Sunday of clashes on the border between HTS and Turkish or Syrian rebel forces. Other reports emerged of HTS and the Islamic State group fighting.

Many believe Ankara's intentions in Syria are to secure the border area and minimise the threat posed by hostile Kurdish militias.

Turkish troops will likely perform monitoring roles in Idlib, which is part of the Turkish-Russian-Iranian sponsored de-escalation zones plan.

The agreement between the three powers was reached in Astana earlier this year and will see Syria divided into different zones. 

Some, such as Deir az-Zour, will see military action continue, while other areas will be covered by a ceasefire.

Idlib province will be monitored by Turkish troops, and other former hotspots, such as Homs province, will be managed by Russian forces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the start of military operations by Ankara and allied rebel forces in Idlib.

Idlib has come under relentless bombing by the Russian and Syrian regime air forces, making September one of the bloodiest months for the province this year.