Turkey Backing Syria Rebels in Idlib to Prevent Clashes Completely: Minister

Where's Idlib? What area is it

"There is a serious operation in Idlib today and it is going to continue", the president said.

Turkish-backed rebels are deploying to Idlib province to fight an alliance led by the former Nusra Front, Turkish President Erdogan has said.

TRT World's Sara Firth, who is in the southern Turkish province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast, explains the latest efforts to build a safe zone in northern Syria.

Speaking from Idlib, Musa Khaled, commander of the 13th division of the Free Syrian Army, confirmed that shells had been fired.

Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary. "They are waiting to enter", said the commander, who did not want to be named for security reasons.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is now engaged in the area which is under the control of anti-regime armed groups and some opposition groups.

The first move, however, came from Tahrir Al Sham's side, with the jihadists in July launching a massive assault on its most powerful ally, Ahrar Al Sham, and evicting it from all but a few parts of Idlib. At the same time, the Turkish military could launch an operation within Idlib.

Idlib is the last remaining area in northern Syria where anti-Assad rebel groups have a foothold.

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Under pressure and increasingly weak, most rebel groups have acquiesced to the ceasefire zones, but Tahrir Al Sham fiercely opposes it.

This is despite the area being covered by the Turkish-Russian-Iranian de-conflict zones.

By joining the Idlib mission, Turkey is "de facto agreeing to the transition of power for Assad", Talha Kose, an analyst with the Ankara-based Foundation for Political and Social Research, said at a conference on Syria in Istanbul on Thursday. "The news is what you see, not what you hear", said an HTS statement published on the group's Telegram channel.

Last month, Turkey agreed with Iran and Russian Federation to establish de-escalation zones in northwestern Syrian province as part of the Astana peace deal.

Activists also said around 1,500 FSA fighters reached the Turkish city of Antioch which is near the Syrian cities of Salqin and Harem in the northwestern countryside of Idlib.

Armed men from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) ride armored pick-up trucks during battles against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists near the town of Qabasin, some 30 kilometers from Aleppo, Syria, January 8, 2017.

"If you take one step towards us, we'll take two towards you".

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