Erdogan, Macron Discuss Iraq, Syria in Phone Call

Erdogan, Macron Discuss Iraq, Syria in Phone Call

"We are now in the process of taking further steps towards securing Idlib after expanding the Euphrates Shield Operation".

"The Free Syrian Army ( FSA) is now carrying out the operation and our soldiers haven't yet entered Idlib", Erdogan said, adding that the name of the operation will be announced.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that Turkey was conducting an anti-terror operation in Syria's Idlib.

Tahrir al-Sham is well entrenched in the border area in Idlib and maintains a big military presence in nearby towns, a local rebel and a resident of a town near Bab al-Hawa said.

NTV reported that Erdogan told reporters after his speech that Russian Federation was backing the operation from the air, while Turkish soldiers were supporting it from inside Turkish borders.

"For now the Free Syrian Army is carrying out the operation there", Erdogan said.

Erdogan said many Syrians had fled to Idlib from neighbouring Aleppo province, which was rocked by heavy fighting a year ago, and Turkey was not going to let them down.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitor said Turkish army cranes had begun removing sections of the security wall Turkey has built on the border in preparation for an incursion.

"Russia is supporting the operation from the air, and our armed forces from inside Turkey's borders", he added.

It has been a formidable military force since early in the war, when it transitioned from bomb attacks in cities to guerrilla conflict with the Syrian army, fighting alongside many other factions. "The goal of the operation is to liberate Idlib fully from Tahrir al-Sham". Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

"We wish them luck", Bahçeli also said.

Turkey earlier this year wrapped up its months-long Euphrates Shield operation against jihadists and Kurdish militia in the northern Aleppo province that involved both the Turkish army and Syrian rebels. "We expect that the large-scale operation that has been prepared will be launched perhaps within the next 24 hours", the rebel said.

The two leaders also stressed the importance of preserving Iraq and Syria's territorial integrity in their phone call, presidential sources said, Daily Sabah reported.

Asked whether the Idlib operation would be similar to Euphrates Shield, Erdogan replied: "When you enter the boxing ring you don't count your punches".

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