Turkish, Russian armed forces to ensure safety in Syria's Idlib: Erdogan

Rebels backed by Turkey are carrying out a new operation in Syria's north-western Idlib province, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

The group is not party to an agreement on setting up a de-escalation zone in Idlib agreed during Syrian peace talks in Astana brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

"We are taking new steps to ensure security in Idlib".

Earlier in the day, Erdogan announced to launch a "serious operation" in Syria's Idlib, while Turkey and Russian Federation jointly plan to set up "de-escalation" zones in Syria.

Turkey earlier this year wrapped up its months-long Euphrates Shield operation in Aleppo province that involved both the Turkish army and Syrian rebels.

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Erdogan said the operation, which has seen Turkish troops heading towards the border but not yet crossing it, was being conducted in coordination with Russian Federation.

Idlib and surrounding areas in north-west Syria are among the largest strongholds for rebels fighting the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, but it is now largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group led by al-Qaida's former Syria affiliate.

In July Tahrir al-Sham seized land around the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, bringing much of the frontier area inside Syrian under its control.

"We will never allow a terror corridor along our borders in Syria", Erdogan said.

Turkey has been moving military equipment to its border with Syria since June 21.

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"We wish them luck", Bah├želi also said.

The agreement came despite Russian Federation and Iran backing President Assad and Turkey wanting him gone. "We expect that the large-scale operation that has been prepared will be launched perhaps within the next 24 hours", the rebel said.

The president later told reporters the operation was led by Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and that the Turkish army was not yet operating there.

"When you enter a boxing match, you don't count how many punches you throw", he said.

It has been a formidable military force since early in the war, when it transitioned from bomb attacks in cities to guerrilla conflict with the Syrian army, fighting alongside many other factions. Turkey, however, has backed rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

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Asked how far Turkey might go in deploying troops inside Syria, Erdogan declined to give details.

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