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Sep 10 2018

Turkey sending 20,000 FSA militants to Idlib – pro-government newspaper

Turkey is sending 20,000 members of Syria’s opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib to prevent Syrian President Bashar Assad troops “massacring civilians”, pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper said.

Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is planning an offensive against what is the last major opposition stronghold in the war-torn country. Turkey fears a full-blown attack on jihadists in the neighbouring region could mean another humanitarian crisis with 800,000 refugees fleeing to its border.

Turkey is planning on moving half of the 50,000 FSA militants to Idlib, Yeni Şafak said, with the others in reserve in Syria’s northwestern towns of Afrin, Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab, Al-Rai and Marea.

FSA Commander Ahmed Rahal last week said should the Assad government start an offensive against Idlib, with the backing of Russia and Iran, Turkey would provide his fighters with weapons and ammunition, Yeni Şafak said.