Turkey says major operation underway in Syria's Idlib

What about Idlib? Why is Idlib critical

Earlier Saturday, Erdogan said the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is now engaged in operations to secure Idlib while Turkish soldiers are "not there yet".

Turkish military deployed fully-equipped commando units as part of its reinforcements for Syria's western Idlib province along the border, Anadolu Agency media team reported from the scene.

"We are taking new steps to ensure security in Idlib", he said.

"Today there's a serious operation in Idlib and it will continue", Erdogan said in a televised speech.

During his speech, Erdoğan said that the operation in Idlib is the follow-up of the Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria, which was launched on August 24, 2016, in a bid to clear Turkey's border from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and stop the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from merging its Kobane and Afrin cantons.

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), spearheaded by a former al-Qaeda affiliate that changed its name a year ago from the Nusra Front. "The goal of the operation is to liberate Idlib fully from Tahrir al-Sham".

"We will absolutely not allow the creation of a terror corridor along our borders", said Erdogan in his speech.

Reports suggest a large military deployment on Turkey's southern border and residents near the Bab al-Hawa crossing told Reuters that a section of frontier wall had been removed. It said the operation was yet to formally begin.

"The Free Syrian Army, with support from Turkish troops, is in full readiness to enter the area but until this moment there is no movement", said Sejari, the Liwa al-Mutasem official.

It said in the statement that Idlib would "not be a picnic" for them and added "the lions of jihad and martyrdom are waiting to pounce".

The move comes a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Erdogan in Ankara, with both sides agreeing to push for the Idlib de-escalation zone.

UPFRONT: Has the Syrian opposition lost the war?

Two waves of air strikes on Idlib killed at least 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, a Britain-based monitoring group said on Saturday. Russian Federation is providing air support.

The agreement came despite Russian Federation and Iran backing President Assad and Turkey wanting him gone.

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