Turkey sends more troops, tanks to Syria amid Idlib assault

Syrian rebel fighter fire a howitzer toward the government positions near the village of Nerab, in Idlib province, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Turkey sent more reinforcements into northwestern Syria on Thursday, setting up new positions in an attempt to stop a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the war-torn country, state media and opposition activists said. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed)

Several Turkish armored vehicles and tanks have entered rebel-controlled northwestern Syria in the latest reinforcements sent in by Ankara amid a Syrian government offensive that this week brought the two countries’ troops into a rare direct confrontation. The offensive by the Syrian government, backed by its ally Russia, has been unfolding to secure a strategic highway that runs along rebel-controlled territory, advancing on rebel-held areas and towns and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The latest Turkish deployment on Friday came a day after Syrian troops captured a key town along the highway. The offensive has displaced over half a million people.