Turkey invades Syria to face anti-Damascus rebels


According to the military statement, these de-escalation zones were created to "enhance the effectiveness of the cease-fire regime, end conflicts, bring humanitarian aid to those in need [and] establish the necessary conditions for the return of those displaced".

The Turkish military began setting up observation posts in northern Syria's Idlib province on Thursday as part of a "de-escalation" deal which it agreed on last month with Iran and Russian Federation.

Turkish officials were not immediately available to confirm the report but the official Anadolu news agency earlier reported several armoured personnel carriers, ambulances and containers massing on the Syrian border.

Although Erdogan said the operation would firstly be carried out by the rebel it supports, Turkish troops crossed border into Syria's Idlib province on October 8 to conduct reconnaissance mission there.

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The deployment is part of the de-escalation deal brokered in Astana last month between Ankara, Tehran and Moscow.

Three zones are already in place - in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in central Homs, and in parts of southern Syria - which are being monitored by Russian military police.

Civilians there are living in fear of potential clashes between Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance of armed groups that controls Idlib. Turkey's operation is mainly aimed at clearing out HTS and implementing a de-escalation zone in the province.