Turkey Deploys Additional Reinforcements to Idlib to Step Up Security

Story Highlights

  • Turkey Sends New Tanks, Artillery Units to Idlib
  • President Erdogan Points YPG-held Afrin As Next Target
  • Erdogan Vows to Crush Kurdish YPG militia

Turkey has dispatched more troops and armored vehicles to reinforce its forces in the western Syrian province of Idlib as part of a mission to observe de-escalation efforts around Idlib.

The latest deployment came on Thursday as armored vehicles and artillery units entered Syria from Reyhanli district of Turkish border province of Hatay.

After Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed to establish a monitoring force to observe de-escalation in Idlib, the Turkish military moved to the province and swiftly built observation posts. It deployed tanks, medium-range missile launchers and artillery units along with hundreds of troops.

While Turkey framed its military presence as a necessary measure to check al-Qaeda-linked elements in control and to ensure observation of truce between government troops and rebel forces, Turkish leaders also signaled a possible endeavor against Kurdish forces in Afrin.

As recently as this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointed to YPG, Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which is affiliated with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgent group that fights against the Turkish state for regional autonomy for decades, as a potential new target.

“Afrin could present threats to us at any moment,” the president said, referring to the Syrian town held by the YPG. Reflecting acute Turkish concerns, Mr. Erdogan said the separatist militants would try to reach Mediterranean through northern Syria after occupying Idlib.

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