On January 28, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish Army may launch an attack in the northern Idlib governorate after capturing the Afrin area, according to the Russian RT TV.
“If Allah permits, then we will reach Idlib,” Erdogan said at the Youth Conference that was organized by his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the northwestern Kocaeli province.
The Turkish president also stressed that all the Turkish people are supporting the ongoing military operation of the Turkish Army in the Afrin area and claimed that over 394 fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were killed by the Turkish Army during the operation.
Some experts believe that any possible military operation of the Turkish Army in Idlib governorate will be aimed against the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The radical armed group clashed before with Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups on several occasions, which threatened the interests of Ankara in northern Syria.
The Turkish Army conducted at least one reconnaissance mission in the eastern Idlib countryside on January 26. However, the mission was approved by HTS as both sides are currently coordinating on the western front of the Afrin area, according to Syrian oppositions sources. This indicates that such a Turkish military operation against HTS won’t happen before the Turkish operation in Afrin is over.