A man works on woven mats inside a factory in Idlib province, Syria July 29, 2018. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
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The red Turkish flag fluttering on the outskirts of the Syrian village of Al-Surman is seen by residents as a shield against government attacks since Turkish troops arrived in February.The village is situated in rebel-held territory near the front line with government forces in the northwestern Idlib region, one of the last big strongholds of the opposition to President Bashar Assad.Assad has indicated Idlib could be his next target.Displaced Syrians have poured into Idlib from other parts of the country recovered by Assad.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pressing his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the issue, and has said Turkey – with NATO's second-biggest army – cannot accept an offensive in Idlib.Turkish forces have deployed at 12 observation posts in the Idlib region under the agreement reached with Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital of Astana.The commander of the rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqia said he was 90 percent certain that the government would attack Idlib once its offensive in the southwest is finished.
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