After US Backing, Turkish Troops Clash with Rebel Forces at Syrian Border

The necessary step was taken and it is ongoing.

The firefights come a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for military intervention in Idlib province, where HTS militants drove out Ankara-backed rebels in July.

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.

The Observatory and another activist-operated news service, Thiqa, meanwhile reported that what appeared to be Turkish troops have entered Syria in a number of vehicles to deploy at an area between Idlib and Aleppo province.

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.

"Today a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, and this will continue".

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.

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Free Syrian Army fighters had reportedly entered Idlib Friday night, according to earlier media reports, but the Turkish president denied Ankara-backed forces had yet entered.

The province is dominated by jihadist groups and Mr Erdogan has said he will not allow a "terror corridor" on the Turkish border.

The Hurriyet daily said ultimately Turkey would ensure security in Idlib city and Russian Federation in the surrounding area.

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. Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

The Syrian Observatory in the last week has repeatedly accused Syria and Russian Federation of carrying out deadly air strikes in Idlib province with heavy civilian losses.

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.

Also Sunday, the Al Qaeda-linked Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for the Liberating Levant Committee, which includes the Nusra Front, was said to have destroyed a Turkish tank in a border area between Atama and Sarmada area in northern Idlib.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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