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Syria FM: Turkey’s Military Presence in Syria Illegal

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Walid al-Moallem made the remarks in meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the Russian resort city of Sochi, SANA (Syria) and Fars News (Iran) reported.

In his response to a question on the Syrian government’s attitude towards more countries joining the Astana process as observers, al-Moallem said “We accepted the requests of five countries, and now we have received a request from Venezuela I think. We welcome the involvement of these countries and expanding participation in Astana meetings.”

Commenting on the fourth de-escalation zone in Idlib, al-Moallem affirmed that this zone was agreed on at the latest Astana meeting under the patronage of the guarantor countries “with the hope that it will be implemented on the ground.”

“We started from our desire to stop the Syrian bloodshed, and in the end, such agreements have a fixed period of six months, and accordingly they are part of our right to maintaining the unity of Syria, land and people,” al-Moallem said.

He elaborated by saying that he believes that what is going on now in Idlib is “part of fixing issues between Turkey and its tools.”

“We still and will always consider the Turkish presence in Syria as illegal. The Turks say their presence is taking place under the Astana umbrella, but I realized today that Astana has nothing to do with this Turkish act. Therefore, any measure that is not coordinated with the Syrian government is an act of aggression, and we don’t recognize its legitimacy,” al-Moallem said.

This week Turkey launched a major offensive in Northwestern Syria to reportedly combat terrorist groups in the region.

Earlier during his meeting with Lavrov, al-Moallem affirmed that the international coalition led by Washington is destroying everything in Syria except for ISIL terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, Lavrov affirmed that the victories achieved by the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, have made the efforts of solving the crisis in Syria more successful.

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Turkey has the right to conduct a military operation in the Syrian city of Idlib to ensure its own safety, Turkish media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying Oct. 12, reported Trend News Agency (Azerbaijan).

The expected military operation in Idlib does not contradict international law, he said.
“Concentration of terrorists in the city of Afrin, as well as in other Syrian cities, is a serious threat to Turkey,” Bozdag noted.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the armed forces of Turkey and Russia will provide security in Idlib. In the city’s central districts security will be provided by the Turkish Armed Forces, while Russia’s Armed Forces will ensure safety on the outskirts.

It was earlier reported that Turkey completed preparations for new military operations in Syria and military operations in Idlib may start in the coming days. The military operations are expected to be held jointly with troops of the Free Syrian Army.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that Turkish reconnaissance forces, which were supposed to go around the western countryside of Aleppo and the contact lines with the YPG in Afrin, were prevented from completing their tour by a rebel Islamic movement operating on the contact lines with the Kurdish forces in Afrin, and source pointed out to the SOHR that the Turkish forces accompanying the Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham were prevented from reaching areas of presence of the movement members because of the tension between the movement and Tahrir Al-Sham, where the Movement accused Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham of claiming to have most of the contact points between the factions and the Kurdish forces. Also SOHR received information that members of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkish delegation were prevented from entering the area, so both of the Turkish delegation and the Hayyaat objected the decision of the Movement on preventing them entering and both of them returned to the borders.

The SOHR published on the 8th of October 2017 that the activists of the Syrian Observatory for human rights monitored the stop of the clashes that took place on the Syrian-Turkish border between members of Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham and Turkish forces on the border of Kafr Luseen with the Iskenderun, followed by the entry of a Turkish force consists of several vehicles, and on board of them there were Turkish reconnaissance forces, and they headed to the western countryside of Aleppo. Intersected sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that these vehicles had entered the Syrian border accompanied by military vehicles and machines of Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, which protected these machines and headed towards Darat Azza area in the western countryside of Aleppo, and located near the contact lines with YPG which control the area of Afrin, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received information that an agreement was been reached about handing over the points of contact with the Kurdish forces in Afrin to the Turkish forces; after the Turkish forces and vehicles enter the area located in the western countryside of Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published also on Sunday the 8th of October 2017 that it documented the fall of several shells fired by the Turkish forces on areas in Idlib province, some of them fell near the camps of the displaced people, which resulted in the escape of residents of the camp, for fear of falling the shells on their tents, while members of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham targeted a border position of the Turkish forces near Bab-Hawa area by several shells, amid bringing military reinforcements by Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, in which these reinforcements were monitored heading to the vicinity of Kafr Lusayn village, and other villages near the border areas, which witnessed clashes today the 8th of October 2017, these clashes and targeting are accompanied by tension prevails the border areas and Idlib province in general, of the next hours and days, with the accelerating preparations by the Turkish forces to enter Idlib province, after a Turkish – Iranian – Russian agreement, gave the Turkish forces the green light to enter Idlib province.

Some reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that members of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham infiltrated to the area where the military vehicles located and which was targeted more than 24 hours ago near Kafr Lusayn village, from the side of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, where they set fire and withdrew, to start the clash between the members of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham against the Turkish forces, then the clash turned into exchange of targeting by shells fired by using shoulder-fired launchers, followed by shelling by the Turkish forces by mortar and artillery shells fell on areas in the province countryside, without causing any human losses until now.

These concentrations by Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, in conjunction with the concentrations by the Turkish party, come after the first direct clash took place today, between the Turkish forces against members of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, at the northern border of Idlib with the Sanjak of Alexandretta, where intensive exchange of fire took place between the both parties, at the border area with Kafr Lusayn village in Idlib countryside, accompanied with exchange of targeting took place between the both parties, while no information about casualties was reported yet, while the Syrian – Turkish border witnessed more than 24 hours ago, exchange of targeting between Turkish forces and Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham at the Syrian – Turkish border.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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