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Turkey army says installing 'observation posts' in Syria

13 October 2017

"On October 12, we began activities to establish observation posts", the military said in a statement.

Turkish troops have crossed into Syria's Idlib province to monitor de-escalation zones that aim to bring an end to the six-and-a-half-year conflict, the military said Friday.

The convoy included about 30 military vehicles, said Abu Khairo, a commander in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group based in the area, and it entered Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to a civilian witness.

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"The elements of Turkish armed forces are continuing ir duties in region within framework of agreed engagement rules by Guarantor countries during Astana process", statement said. Three other de-escalation zones are now operating in south-western Syria, eastern Ghouta (suburbs of Damascus) and northern Homs province. The deployment is also meant to rein in the Kurdish YPG militia, which holds the adjacent Afrin region, Reuters quoted a senior rebel official involved in the operation as saying.

The de-escalation zone is part of an agreement between Turkey, which backs forces battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and Iran and Russian Federation, which support his government.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had on Saturday announced that pro-Ankara rebels backed by the Turkish army would lead the military campaign against the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist coalition in the northwestern Syrian province.

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The last time Turkish forces were engaged in Syria was in August, when Turkey launched its eight-month-long Euphrates Shield operation against jihadists and Kurdish militia in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib but also parts of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions.

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Turkey army says installing 'observation posts' in Syria