TURKISH troops faced off against Kurdish guerillas in north-western Syria yesterday, according to rebel reports.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Turkish armed forces, jointly with the FSA units started an operation in Idlib,” a province divided between Free Syrian Army insurgents and al-Qaida-affiliated groups.
Some 30 armoured vehicles with more than 100 troops reportedly crossed the border, setting up “observation posts” ostensibly to police the ceasefire with the government.
But a member of the Kurdish YPG militia told reporters that the troops had been deployed along the front with Afrin, an YPG-controlled canton of Aleppo province to the north.
An FSA militant confirmed the deployment.
Earlier this week, Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed al-Moallem branded the Turkish incursion “illegal.”
US support for the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces has been a major source of tension between Ankara and Washington.
Last year, the Turkish army and FSA factions invaded the north of Aleppo province to prevent the YPG linking Afrin with Manbij, which they had recently liberated from Isis.
Meanwhile, the Russian forces in Syria made new allegations of Isis jihadists entering Syria unopposed from areas of Iraq patrolled by the US-led military coalition.
Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said more than 1,000 extremists had crossed the border from Iraq to attack the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
He said the Russian air force contingent had flown almost 400 air raids this week in support of Syrian troops.
The “counteroffensive was repelled and the main forces of the terrorists were destroyed,” Col-Gen Rudskoi reported.