Turkish military confirms reconnaissance mission in Idlib



ISTANBUL (dpa)- The Turkish military confirmed Monday that it had started a reconnaissance mission inside Syria's Idlib province the previous day as part of an international effort to reduce violence in the war-torn country.
The flights were carried out within the framework of the so-called Astana process, a Russian-Iranian-Turkish initiative which aims to set up de-escalation zones, monitored by the three powers.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that a joint military operation with allied Syrian rebels was taking place in the north-western Syrian province "without any problem.”
Idlib is the only Syrian province run by rebel forces, though it is dominated by hardline jihadists, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaeda-linked alliance.
Insurgents from HTS provided protection for the convoy, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported on Sunday.
Reports indicated that the Turkish forces first went to an area along the border between Idlib and Afrin, a territory run by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Erdogan had warned of a further strengthening of the YPG.
The YPG, the main US ally on the ground in Syria, has played a key role in fighting Islamic State extremists. Turkey says the YPG is linked to Turkish Kurdish militants and dubbed it a terrorist organization.
The Kurds in Afrin also have a working relationship with Russia, which had set up a military position in the area months ago.
The Turkish army has been amassing forces near the Syrian border over the past weeks, with a particularly intense build-up in recent days.
Turkey has backed rebel groups in Syria's conflict, while Iran and Russia have supported President Bashar al-Assad.
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Tuesday, October 10th 2017
dpa
           


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