ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish military vehicles entered Syria’s Idlib province on Sunday under escort from an Islamist alliance, reported Reuters.
Two sources from the area witnessed the crossing into Idlib of Turkish units with the Tahrir al-Sham group, said the agency.
Elsewhere in Idlib, the Turks engaged in a fire exchange with members of the same group near the village of Kafr Lusin, said the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters Saturday that his army was not in Idlib yet, but that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions Ankara supports against his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad's rule were active in the area.
The Turkish army deployed massive reinforcements to its outposts on the border in preparations to sending forces into Idlib, which is part of a deal with Iran and Russia to de-escalate the conflict in the area.
In mid-September, Ankara agreed with the Syrian regime's two main backers, Russia and Iran, to create zones of de-escalation by deploying troops in Idlib where armed Islamist groups allied with al-Qaeda hold sway.
"In accordance with the agreement reached by the three guarantor states of the Astana meetings, observers from the three states will be deployed at the checkpoints and observation posts to be established in the security zones which will constitute the borders of the de-escalation area," said a press release on the Turkish ministry's website.
Damascus lost the area in 2015 to Islamist opposition groups.
The agreement defined Turkey as the guarantor of the Idlib opposition, whereas Tehran and Moscow were that of the Damascus government.
Ankara already controls a pocket of land since launching the Euphrates Shield Operation in 2016 in northern Syria, acting as a barrier to Kurdish ambitions of uniting the isolated Afrin region north of Idlib with the rest of the self-declared Kurdish-led autonomy in the country's north.
Erdogan has previously described the Kurdish-controlled area on the southern Turkish border as a "terror corridor" in the making.
Editing by G.H. Renaud