Published: Mon, October 09, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Turkish Foreign Minister Wants Germany Ties Back On Track

Turkish Foreign Minister Wants Germany Ties Back On Track

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday announced a new operation in the northern Syrian province of Idlib to drive out an al Qaeda splinter group before the establishment of a de-escalation zone there.

He later told reporters the operation was led by so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants and that the Turkish army was "not yet" operating inside Syria.

The Turkish president said 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 of the Islamic State (IS) militants and other terrorists.

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.

The spokesman noted that the establishment of a de-escalation zone in rebel-held Idlib Province would start in the coming days. "The necessary step was taken, and it is ongoing", Erdogan said.

Last year, the Turkish army launched a cross-border operation with Syrian opposition fighters to clear an area along its border of the Islamic State group and prevent the dominant Kurdish group from forming a contiguous entity from northeast to northwest Syria.

The Arab country has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011.

"We will never allow a terror corridor along our Syrian border", Erdogan said.

President Erdogan refused to provide details on the extent of Turkish military deployment in Syria.

Turkey has long opposed any political transition under him, but Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war shored up the president after years of Turkish and USA insistence that he must go.

The FSA groups supported by Turkey are now ready to enter Idlib, Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in the Liwa al-Mutasem group said.

Turkish media reports that a convoy of at least 12 vehicles, carrying 12 tanks and two bulldozers, was heading for the Cilvegozu crossing across Syria's Bab al-Hawa border gate.

Along with Iraq's central government, Turkey, the US, Iran, and the United Nations have spoken out against Monday's illegitimate poll, warning it would distract from the ongoing fight against ISIS and further destabilize the region. Turkey has supported and backed rebels that seek the toppling of Assad. The Turkish leader's coordination with Russian Federation and Iran comes amid deepening tensions with the USA, exacerbated by Washington's decision to deliver arms to Kurdish groups that Turkey views as terrorists.

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