Turkish army tanks in Idlib, monitoring zones established

On Friday, Turkey said it had deployed dozens of soldiers in the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib to establish "observation posts".

"Turkish Armed Forces elements that are to serve in the Idlib de-escalation zone have started their activities by establishing observation posts from October 12, 2017, as part of the Astana agreement..."

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which has ousted more moderate rebels in recent months. The elements of TSK were discussed at some point in first place near Afrin, terrorist organization PKKPYD, which is located on border with Turkey.

Turkey backs the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a year ago supported a rebel offensive against so-called Islamic State (IS) along the border in neighbouring Aleppo province.

That operation was also aimed at stopping the YPG using its own advances against Daesh to link Afrin with the much larger area it controls in northeastern Syria.

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

Several Turkish military vehicles, ambulances and tankers were visible in photographs published by Turkey's Anadolu news agency late on Thursday stationed at a village near Turkey's Reyhanli border gate opposite Bab al-Hawa.

De-escalation zones have been designated around Syria to wind down clashes between Syrian regime forces and rebel groups.

HTS, which was formed in January by a group previously known as al-Nusra Front, warned that the move would "end with restoring Bashar's rule" to Idlib. Farghali said, "We ought to note the reality that the Turkish army has requested positions opposite the atheist factions (Kurds) with a limited force under the mujahideen's sway, one that in no circumstance exercises control or can in these areas in which Allah's law is supreme".

Vanessa Coleman

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