'Untangling the Syrian Knot': Why Russia-Turkey Coordination in Idlib Pivotal

Posted October 09, 2017

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. "If you make a step toward us, we will make two toward you", Cavusoglu said.

"There's a serious operation in Syria's Idlib today and it will continue", Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party on Saturday, adding that Turkey would not allow a "terror corridor" on its border with Syria.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan had asserted that Turkey was not going to allow an "operation" against the territorial integrity of its neighbors. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

U.S. -Turkish tensions have risen over U.S. military support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an extension of the banned PKK, which has waged an insurgency for three decades in southeast Turkey.

Tahrir Al Sham, which is listed by the United States and others as a "terrorist" group, counts an estimated 10,000 fighters among its ranks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

Tahrir al-Sham has pledged to keep fighting Syrian government forces and their allies, casting doubt on the de-escalation agreement, but Ankara has worked to lure militants from it and two groups have defected from the jihadist alliance.

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"The fighters number in the thousands and there are Turkish soldiers participating", he added, without giving further details.

The Observatory reported "heavy exchanges of fire", but said the incident did not appear to mark the start of the operation Erdogan described on Saturday. At the same time, the Turkish military could launch an operation within Idlib.

Afer those talks Putin declared the right conditions now existed to end the over six-year civil war that has killed an estimated 330,000 people since 2011. Russian Federation is providing air support.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow's military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict. FSA and HTS oppose the Assad regime, but are also battling each another for control of Idlib.

Syria's former Al Qaeda affiliate was once a key ally for many rebels but they are now abandoning it as the jihadists face a Turkey-backed operation in its stronghold.