Turkey has deployed troops to Syria’s Idlib province, as part of its effort to stem fighting and end jihadist control of the region.
Turkish military officials on Friday said Turkish forces are establishing observation posts in the area. The Hurriyet newspaper reports Turkey sent over 100 soldiers and 30 armored vehicles to the northwestern Syrian region. The newspaper said more troops would be deployed in the next few days.
Turkey’s troops are supporting the Free Syrian Army, Syrian rebels who want to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
In a televised address Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “We said we would come unexpectedly in the night, and last night … we started the operation,” referring to the operation that began Thursday.
“It is us who had a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria, we are the ones threatened,” Erdogan said.
About 3 million refugees from Iraq and Syria are living in Turkey. Security experts have warned that Turkey could possibly face a humanitarian crisis, but also a security threat with the jihadists based in Idlib.
Turkey’s maneuvers in Syria come after diplomats from Turkey, Russian and Iran, met last month in Astana and agreed to create a de-escalation zone in Idlib that would include the deployment of observers.