Turkey sends armoured convoys into Syria to face off against Assad

(Updated with information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

Turkey sent military reinforcements into Idlib, northwest Syria following an escalation in the region by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and their allies Russia.

Middle East Monitor cited unnamed reports as saying that six convoys of Turkish army reinforcements including tanks and heavy artillery had headed towards Turkish observation points deployed in the Idlib countryside, Middle East Monitor reported on Thursday.

The deployment came as Russian warplanes carried out more than 16 raids in Idlib on Tuesday, hours after a failed attempt to advance by the Syrian government forces.

Middle East Monitor said Turkish media outlets have documented the entry of 23 Turkish convoys into northern Syria since the beginning of August. 

The convoys reportedly included heavy military vehicles, tanks, armoured vehicles, ammunition trucks and logistical equipment, Middle East Monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday that it had recorded the entry of five new Turkish military columns via the Kafr Losin crossing, north of Idlib. The columns consisted of more than 75 armoured vehicles carrying logistical and military equipment, the SOHR said.

Joint military patrols by Russia and Turkey in Idlib were suspended last week due to increasing attacks by militants. 

The joint patrols are part of the ceasefire agreement made on March 5 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to end fighting in Idlib between Turkish-backed rebel forces and the Syrian military, which is backed by Russia. 

The number of military vehicles entered Syrian territory since the start of the new ceasefire has reached 5,450 in addition to thousands of Turkish soldiers, according to the SOHR.

The SOHR said that more than 8,785 Turkish trucks and and military vehicles had arrived in the “de-escalation zone” since February, while over 11,500 Turkish soldiers had been deployed in Idlib and Aleppo during this period.