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Idlib operation splits Turks more than other Syria interventions

Opinion polls show mixed feelings about Turkey’s declaration of a major offensive in Syria after an attack killed dozens of its soldiers. Public attention has also shifted hundreds of miles away to its borders with Europe after the government invited millions of refugees to leave.

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s fourth military operation in Syria in as many years has divided the country along the same political fault lines that have polarized it in recent years, with the government’s supporters seeing an urgent threat emerging south of the border and its critics fearing Turkey is sliding deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

Fighting in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, the last stretch of territory held by Turkish-backed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has intensified dramatically as Turkey downs Syrian jets and bombs air defense systems in Operation Spring Shield, launched at the weekend. At least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed Feb. 27 in Idlib in an airstrike blamed on Syria.

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