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AMMAN (Reuters) – Turkey has stepped up arms supplies to Syrian rebels to help them stave off an expected offensive by the Syrian army and its Russian and Iran-backed allies in the northwest near the Turkish frontier, rebel sources told Reuters.
Senior rebel officials said Turkey had sent more military aid to rebels in and around the Idlib region since a summit meeting with Iran and Russia last week failed to agree a deal to avert a government offensive into the area.
Turkey - Refugees - Attack - Syrians - Border
Turkey, which is already hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is warning against such an attack, fearing it could force more Syrians over the border. President Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a humanitarian disaster and security risks for Turkey.
“They pledged complete Turkish military support for a long, protracted battle,” a senior FSA commander who was privy to talks in recent days with senior Turkish officials said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Weapons - Syria - Quantities - Days - Ammunition
The weapons, which have entered Syria in large quantities in recent days, include ammunition and GRAD rockets.
“These arms supplies and munitions will allow the battle to extend and ensure our supplies are not drained in a war of attrition,” the commander added.
Rebel - Commander - Shipments - Munitions - Munitions
A second rebel commander said: “They are getting new shipments of munitions — they don’t need more than munitions.”
“The Turks are making sure they have enough munitions that keep them going for a long while,” he added.
Officials - Comment
Turkish officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Idlib area forms part of an arc of territory in the northwest representing the last big area held by the opposition.
People - Idlib - Half - Syrians - Parts
Some three million people are living in Idlib, half of them Syrians who have fled from other parts of the country.
Russian and Syrian warplanes have stepped up air strikes on southern Idlib and adjacent areas of Hama province in an...
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