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Turkish forces clash with al-Qaida-linked rebels near Syria's Idlib

Sporadic clashes have been reported Sunday between the Turkish forces and the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham rebels on the Turkish-Syrian border, activists said.

The intermittent clashes were reported near the town of Kafr-Lusin on the Syria-Turkish border in the northern countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, activists said.

Activists also said several mortar shells landed near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, believed to be fired from the Turkish side of the border.

Some mortar rounds slammed near the Deir Hassan camp for Syrian displaced people on the border area in northern Idlib, amid a state of fear among the people there.

Also Sunday, the al-Qaida-linked Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for the Liberating Levant Committee, which includes the Nusra Front, was said to have destroyed a Turkish tank in a border area between Atama and Sarmada area in northern Idlib countryside.

The skirmishes come as the Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are bracing to enter Idlib to defeat the al-Qaida-linked groups, as part of a deal struck recently with Russia in the recent sixth round of Astana talks on Syria.

A day earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey was conducting an anti-terror operation in Syria's Idlib.

"Today a landmark operation is underway in Idlib, and it will continue," Erdogan said at the ruling Justice and Development Party's meeting in Turkey's western province of Afyonkarahisar.

Last month, Erdogan said Turkey would deploy troops in Syria's northwest Idlib as part of a de-escalation agreement brokered by Russia in August.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 08Oct17]

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