First Published: 2018-02-15

Turkey sets up new 'observation point' in Syria's Idlib
Observation point is established nearly 70 kilometres from Turkish border in northwestern Idlib province.
Middle East Online

ANKARA - Turkish troops have set up a new "observation point" in the Syrian province of Idlib as part of efforts to reduce violence in the conflict, state media reported Thursday.

The point -- an outpost staffed by a small number of troops to monitor any fighting -- was established nearly 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the Turkish border in the northwestern province, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Idlib is nearly completely under the control of anti-government forces, predominantly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate.

Anadolu said a Turkish military convoy crossed the Turkey-Syria border Wednesday night.

The latest post is in Maarrat al-Numan town in southeastern Idlib.

This is the sixth such position in the province after two were established earlier this month by the Turkish army. The other three were set up in October and November.

Turkish convoys have come under attack including one incident early in February which killed one soldier. The Turkish army said "terror groups" were responsible.

Establishing the observation points is a key element in peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana aimed at ending the seven-year Syrian conflict.

One of the agreements of the talks -- sponsored by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- was to create four so-called de-escalation zones including Idlib.

The other three are the greater Damascus area, the southern Daraa region and Homs city.

Turkey last week said it would host a three-way summit with the Russian and Iranian leaders following last year's Sochi summit hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The date has yet to be fixed but is one of many moves Turkey has been making with Moscow and Tehran despite being on opposite sides of the war.

Iran and Russia are staunch supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime but Ankara has called for Assad's ouster and supported Syrian opposition fighters.

Since January 20, Turkey has conducted a cross-border offensive with ground troops and air strikes supporting Syrian rebels against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) viewed by Ankara as "terrorists".


Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death