21:22 GMT18 May 2021
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - The Turkish Armed Forces will leave neighboring Syria after terrorism is eliminated and fair elections take place, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

    "When terrorism leaves [Syria], when fair elections are held, then we will also leave. We were invited by the residents of Idlib. The same happened in Afrin, where we were invited by the people. Where there are oppressed, we will be there," Erdogan said at a forum in Istanbul.

    READ MORE: Ankara May Hold Referendum on EU Accession Bid as Europe Delays It — Erdogan

    Previously, Turkish troops, in cooperation with several Syrian opposition groups, participated in a number of military operations in Syria, mostly against Kurdish militants, such as the Euphrates Shield and the Olive Branch operation in Afrin.

    Damascus has condemned Ankara's military operations, saying they violate the Syrian sovereignty.

    READ MORE: Turkey-Russia Deal on Syria's Idlib 'Important for World Politics' — Turkish MP.

    Earlier in September, Russian and Turkish sides agreed on setting up a 9-12 mile demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line of the armed opposition and the government forces by October 15. The agreement was proposed to prevent bloodshed in the area, as the Syrian government was preparing an offensive in response to what it said were provocations in the militant-held enclave.


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    demilitarization zone, military, troops, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Afrin, Idlib, Turkey, Syria, Damascus
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