Turkey amasses forces in Idlib, Assad offensive looms
ISTANBUL, Sept 14: Turkey sent in military reinforcements Thursday to beef up its positions inside Syria's last rebel bastion Idlib, activists reported, even as the Turkish defense minister said Ankara is still trying with Russia and Iran to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in the case of a threatened Syrian government offensive.
Activists saw a convoy heading towards some of the 12 posts set up last year under a "de-escalation" deal with the government's allies, Russia and Iran.
A sharp increase in hostilities and fears of further escalation have led to the displacement of more than 38,500 people since the start of September, according to the UN.
An estimated 2.9 million people, including one million children, are living in parts of Idlib, Hama and Aleppo provinces that are controlled by Turkish-backed rebels and jihadists.
Turkey established the observation posts to monitor a "de-escalation" agreement with Russia and Iran, which was intended to reduce violence along the frontlines.
The agreement also covered three other conflict zones in Syria that were recaptured earlier this year by the Syrian army with the support of Russian air strikes and Iranian-backed militias.
Erdogan will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, officials said, amid rising international concern over a looming Syrian government assault on a rebel-held province bordering Turkey. -AFP