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Turkish forces in Syria's Idlib are 'unrestricted' in their operation, says Erdogan

President Erdogan attacked states he said were acting with 'double standards' in Syria [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 October, 2017

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Turkish president Erdogan emphasises that Turkey has its 'own game plan' in Syria, while addressing the continued rift with Washington.

Turkish forces recently deployed in Syria's Idlib province have their own strategy and are "not bounded by just resistance or defense," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The troops referred to by the president entered Syria as part of a monitoring mission agreed upon by Turkey, Russia and Iran last month.

"We implement our own game plan, step by step… We are not bounded by just resistance or defense," Erdogan told a meeting of his AK Party on Friday, emphasising Turkey's close interest in the region's security due to its shared border with Syria.

"Turkey shares a border with Idlib. Thus, we should take our own measures," He said. "It is us that shares a 911km border with Syria. It is us who are under constant abuse and threat."

While addressing Turkey's military role in the rebel-held Syrian province, the Turkish president also used his speech to take shot at states who have acted with "double standards".

"Every day Turkey confronts a new game by those who can't make us kneel in the political, diplomatic, military or economic areas," he said. "Those who supported terror groups such as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization and the PKK failed to corner Turkey [and] are taking now direct action."

Erdogan's indirect attack was his latest contribution to an ongoing diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States.

The dispute broke out last week, when Turkey arrested a US consulate staffer on suspicion of espionage.

The US is home to the alleged mastermind of Turkey's failed coup, Fethullah Gulen,  and Washington has also backed Kurdish YPG rebels in Syria.

Ankara considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a separatist militia proscribed as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.

Kurdish advances in northern Syria have long been a cause for concern in Ankara and a bone of contention between Turkey and the US.

In Syria, Turkey supports opposition fighters and has called for the removal of Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad. Recently, however, it has worked closely with Russia and Iran, both key backers of the Assad regime.

In line with the tripartite negotiations, Turkey entered Syria's Idlib province this week to monitor the "de-escalation" zones that aim to wind down Syria's conflict.

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