Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Turkish forces on Friday began crossing into Syria's Idlib province in order to monitor de-escalation zones, the Turkish military said.
The troop movement is part of a joint mission between Turkey, Russia and Iran to observe de-escalation zones and remove a stronghold of former al-Qaida militants from the area. The three countries agreed in May to be guarantors of a cease-fire to help end the six-year civil war in Syria.
Turkey backs groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran support the leader.
A statement from the Turkish government said troops were establishing observation posts as part of the Astana agreement.
"The Turkish armed forces continue to carry out their duties in the territory within the engagement rules agreed by the guarantor countries in the Astana negotiations," the statement said.
Turkey said the de-escalation zones were created to "enhance the effectiveness of the cease-fire regime, end conflicts, bring humanitarian aid to those in need [and] establish the necessary conditions for the return of those displaced."
Although there is no U.S. involvement in the mission, the U.S. government is watching the combined involvement of the three countries' armies. A Pentagon spokesman said the United States supports the action.