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Turkey deploys troops to Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Turkey deploys troops to Syria's rebel-held Idlib

According to SANA, the Army units carried out intensive operations against ISIL terrorists in al-Mayadeen city, establishing control over al-Tibeh village that is adjacent to the city and advancing into al-Mayadeen neighborhoods from the western part.

The Turkish army is backing the pro-Ankara Free Syrian Army that will need to oust HTS members in the area to allow Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces implement the de-escalation zone.

Sejari, the rebel official, said it was important to contain the YPG to prevent any new military offensive to reach the Mediterranean, something that would require it to capture swathes of mountains held by rebels and Syria's army.

The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib but also parts of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions. The three countries are guaranteeing the ceasefire regime in Syria.

Video distributed by the Turkish army showed what it said was the convoy starting to move on Thursday night, with military vehicles traveling along a road in darkness.

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While Turkey supports Syrian opposition fighters and calls for Assad's ouster, Ankara has worked closely in the last few months with Russian Federation - who supports Assad - in the hope of bringing the war to an end.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Antakya, along Turkey's border with Syria, said: "This is what we know so far: dozens of military vehicles have crossed into Syria".

Last year, Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation, an incursion into northern Syria alongside Syrian rebel groups to take territory on the frontier from Islamic State.

One of Turkey's main concerns is the expansion of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara says is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

The development came after Turkey said it was sending in troops to enforce a de-escalation zone in Idlib.