Erdogan Announces Start of Syria Mission Planned With Putin


Turkey sent special forces and commandos over the border into Syria, the start of a joint mission with Russia and Iran whose stated goal is to monitor a cease-fire agreement and pacify a stronghold for Islamic militants — but one that also has major implications for the region’s Kurds.

Turkish troops began establishing observation points in Idlib on Thursday, the army said in a statement on its website. The mission is being conducted in line with rules of engagement agreed with Russia and Iran, it said without elaborating. The effort to establish a combat-free zone in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, which is largely controlled by former al-Qaeda militants, began late Thursday when thirty armored cars carrying more than 100 special forces and commandos crossed the frontier, Hurriyet newspaper reported, adding that more soldiers are expected to be deployed in coming days.

“We said that we could come suddenly one night, and as you know, last night our armed forces started an operation in Idlib,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara to provincial leaders from his party. “No one can ask us why we’re doing this. We’re the ones who have a 911-kilometer border with Syria. We’re the ones who are constantly under threat.”

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