The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) established the first observation point in Idlib under the scope of the Astana process, the Turkish military said Friday.
"Turkish Armed Forces elements, which have carried the task of building observation points since Oct. 12 in order to establish peace, deliver urgent humanitarian assistance and provid convenient conditions to help refugees return to their homes under the scope of the Astana process, completed the observation point," the statement said. It added that the military's task continues pursuant to the rules of engagement determined by guarantor states Turkey, Russia and Iran in the last Astana meeting.
The statement also said 45 PKK terrorists were killed in the operation between Oct. 12 and Oct. 19 in the southeast, including two senior figures.
Turkish aircraft started reconnaissance flights on Oct. 8, and subsequently troops began to be deployed in the region. They are planning to set up five observation points on Idlib's border with Afrin, a province held by the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG). According to local sources, Turkish military is stationed throughout Dar Ta izzah, Deir Semaan and Selwa.
Earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was conducting a "serious operation" with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as part of the de-escalation deal agreed to last month with Iran and Russia in Kazakhstan.
The Astana agreement with Russia and Iran – Bashar Assad's foreign allies – involves reducing warfare in several regions, including Idlib and adjacent swathes of the northwest, the most populous opposition-held area.
The operation is the second time in over a year that the Turkish military has crossed into Syria. The first, Operation Euphrates Shield, was launched on Aug. 24, 2016 in collaboration with the FSA and helped liberate several Daesh strongholds, such as Jarablus, Dabiq, al-Rai and al-Bab.
In the operation, a staggering blow was dealt to Daesh, and more than 2,000 square kilometers (700 square miles) in northern Syria was seized. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees have been able to return to their hometowns in the liberated areas.