Pro-government Turkish daily: 20,000 Free Syrian Army militants to join Idlib defense

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Members of Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish Army, patrol in Azez region of Aleppo, Syria within the "Operation Olive Branch" against PYD/PKK in Afrin, on January 24, 2018. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20, 2018 in Syria's northwestern Afrin region. AFP

Turkey is planning to send 20,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants to the rebel-held Syrian town of Idlib to protect the civilian population as a military offensive by the Russian-backed Syrian army draws closer, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported on Monday.

According to the report the FSA has around 50,000 militants under the supervision of the Turkish army, which conducted military operations in the northern part of Syria this year to control the area.

Turkey also ordered the FSA to report their inventory and to prepare for a military operation.

The Yeni Şafak daily said the “Homeland Front” in Idlib, a joint rebel defense against the Syrian army’s operations, also had some 30,000 militants.

On Sunday an FSA general, Ahmad Rahhal, tweeted that in the event of an attack on Idlib, Turkey would not withdraw from its observation posts in the area and would provide weapons and ammunition to rebel groups.

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