08:51 GMT25 February 2021
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    Turkey is taking all "necessary measures" along the border with the Syrian province of Idlib, controlled by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In July, the Tahrir al Sham militant group, a merger organization between al-Nusra Front and some others groups linked to al-Qaeda, took control over Idlib.

    "Radical groups have recently taken control of [Idlib] and, taking into account the operations to be carried out there, we are taking measures to prevent a human tragedy as well as threats to our country from outside our borders," Yildirim said, as quoted by the Daily Sabah newspaper.

    Yildirim stressed that Turkey would defend national interests, the right to sovereignty and security if needed, adding that Turkey would not let any "artificial states" to appear on its borders, especially in Iraq and Syria.

    The Turkish prime minister's statement might actually signal that a new Turkish military operation in Syria is being considered.

    On Thursday, Turkish Customs Minister Bulent Tufenkci said that Turkish authorities restricted passage through the Cilvegozu checkpoint in the country's southern Hatay province, bordering Syria, in connection with the terrorist threat emanating from the war-torn state.

    On August 24, 2016, Turkish forces, supported by Free Syrian Army rebels and US-led coalition aircraft, launched a military operation dubbed the Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group. The campaign was the first Turkey's incursion into Syria, however, earlier Turkish forces attacked Kurdish positions in Syria from its side of the border. The operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who have accused Ankara of violating Syria's territorial integrity.

    As Jarabulus was retaken, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian rebels continued the offensive southwest. In the end of February, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Hulusi Akar said that the city of al-Bab was under control and the goals of the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria had been achieved. The campaign ended on March 29.


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    Binali Yildirim, Idlib, Turkey, Syria
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