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The Observatory also said al-Qaida-linked militants have deployed new fighters to the area where the brief clashes occurred, in Kafr Lusin village, along the border. He said the plan is to also foil "foreign projects" that aim to occupy the north of Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism, in an apparent reference to the US -backed Kurdish forces. Russian Federation is providing air support.

"We will absolutely not allow the creation of a terror corridor along our borders", said Erdogan in his speech.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said pro-Ankara Syrian rebels were launching a new military operation in Syria's northwestern Idlib province to push out jihadists controlling the region.

Meanwhile, the "final large fight" in Iraq against the Islamic State group will take place on the border with Syria, a general in a US-led coalition against the militants said Saturday. "Today there's a serious operation in Idlib and this will continue, because we have to extend a hand to our brothers in Idlib", the president said.

HTS has pledged to keep fighting Syrian regime forces and their allies, casting doubt on the de-escalation agreement, but Ankara has worked to lure militants from it, and two groups have defected from the alliance.

Turkey's top military brass, along with the country's head of intelligence, were in Reyhanli and met with field commanders in the area, according to a Turkish Armed Forces statement.

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Turkey has been building up its forces close to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for weeks, in anticipation of a military operation into the territory.

Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed earlier this year to create a series of "de-escalation" zones in Syria, including Idlib, as part of moves to end the Syrian civil war.

Relations between the two countries suffered a major setback during the election campaign, as German politicians fiercely attacked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, demanded from Chancellor Merkel a sharper tone towards Turkey, and called for ending Ankara's European Union membership talks.

Two waves of air strikes on Idlib killed at least 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, a Britain-based monitoring group said on Saturday.

The FSA units are expected to cross from Turkey into Syria late Saturday, a commander from one of the participating rebel groups told CNN.

This is despite the area being covered by the Turkish-Russian-Iranian de-conflict zones.


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