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Turkish President Announces ‘Serious Operation’ In Northern Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on October 3

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on October 7 an operation to retake Idlib, a province under rebel control in northern Syria, amid a reported military buildup on the border between the two countries.

Turkey boosted its military presence along its border with Syria after agreeing with Russia and Iran to work towards a cease-fire in the region.

"We are taking new steps to ensure security in Idlib. Today, a very serious operation is ongoing in Idlib and this will continue," Erdogan said in a televised speech in the western city of Afyon.

Responding to journalists’ questions after the televised speech, Erdogan said Turkish soldiers were not yet in Idlib and the military was backing Free Syrian Army forces from within Turkey’s borders.

The operation is part of a de-escalation deal agreed between Turkey, Iran, and Russia, and will involve Syrian rebel groups crossing into Idlib supported by Turkish soldiers from inside Turkey.

Most of Idlib is controlled by hard-line militants, including an Al-Qaeda linked group, currently the most powerful faction in the province and formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa