Turkish forces set up positions in Syria’s Idlib

A picture taken on October 11, 2017, from the Syrian village of Atme in the northwestern province of Idlib shows Turkish military vehicles driving around a military base on the Turkish side of the border with Syria. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2017
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Turkish forces set up positions in Syria’s Idlib

BEIRUT: Turkish forces that entered Syria’s Idlib province late on Thursday have started setting up observation positions that appear aimed at containing a Kurdish militia, a senior rebel involved in the operation said early on Friday.
“The allied Turkish armed forces have entered Syrian territory and begun setting up observation posts,” said Mustafa Sejari, an official in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group.
Turkey sent a convoy of about 30 military vehicles into rebel-held northwest Syria through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing in Idlib, rebels and a witness said.
President Tayyep Erdogan announced the deployment on Saturday, saying Turkey was conducting a “serious operation” with rebel groups it supports, as part of a “de-escalation” deal it agreed last month with Iran and Russia in Kazakhstan.
Turkey has been a big supporter of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the war. But since last year Ankara has focused on securing its border, both from jihadists and from Kurdish forces that control much of the frontier area inside Syria.
The Astana agreement with Assad’s foreign allies Russia and Iran involves reducing warfare in several regions of Syria, including Idlib and adjacent swathes of the northwest, the most populous rebel-held area.
Tahrir Al-Sham, a powerful jihadist alliance that controls much of that territory, is not party to the de-escalation deal, and is at odds with some of the rebel groups that Turkey supports.
However, its forces gave an escort to the Turkish convoy late on Thursday, witnesses said, indicating that there might not be any fighting between them.
Residents of northwest Syria and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have reported intense air raids on Idlib and nearby areas for months.
The convoy was heading toward Sheikh Barakat, a high area overlooking rebel-held territory and the Kurdish YPG-controlled canton of Afrin, the witnesses said.
“(Turkey’s deployment is) in line with Astana 6 resolutions to ensure the area is protected from Russian and regime bombing and to foil any attempt by the separatist YPG militias to illegally seize any territory,” said Sejari.


Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

  • In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh
  • Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said overnight Sunday to Monday that US-led coalition aircraft had carried out a deadly strike on a regime position in the country’s east near the Iraqi border.
Both US-backed Kurdish-led fighters and Russia-supported regime forces are separately fighting the Daesh jihadist group in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
“Aircraft of the American coalition bombarded one of our military positions in the area of Al-Hari southeast of Albu Kamal” town in Deir Ezzor, state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying, adding a number of people had been killed.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the jihadists have since lost most of that territory, in Syria seeing their presence largely reduced to the country’s vast desert and a few villages near the frontier with Iraq.
In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh.
Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province, while the SDF are battling to expel IS from a string of villages on the river’s eastern banks near the Iraqi border.
Both sides have mostly avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.
But there have been exceptions.
In April, rare clashes broke out between both sides, killing more than a dozen combatants.
In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes in Deir Ezzor province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.
Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces.