Syrians have started to return to the secure towns and villages in the country's Idlib province, a Turkish official in the southeastern province of Hatay has said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said families were crossing into Idlib via the Cilvegözü border post in Hatay's Reyhanlı district.
Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) would be conducting a "serious operation" in Idlib, as Turkish troops moved into the city to establish de-escalation zones, something that Turkey, Russia, and Iran agreed upon at the Astana talks on Syria.
Syrians returning to Idlib must pass a number of security checks before they can move into the newly established secure areas. Since the beginning of this year, around 170,000 Syrians have crossed into the city from Hatay.
Turkey's military began setting up observation posts in Idlib last month before establishing de-escalation zones to reduce clashes between the opposition groups and the regime.
On May 4, the guarantor countries signed a deal in the Kazakh capital of Astana to establish de-escalation zones in Syria.
The May 4 de-escalation zone agreement envisages the halt of hostilities between Assad regime forces and moderate opposition groups within the zones as well as the creation of conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance, the return of displaced civilians to their homes and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Syria's northwestern Idlib province is undergoing an economic recovery as a result of recent Turkish military deployments in the area, which have led to the removal of commercial restrictions at a strategic border crossing.
In early August, Turkish authorities imposed restrictions on vehicles traversing the country's Cilvegözü border crossing, which links Idlib to Turkey's southern Hatay province, for security reasons, limiting cross-border traffic to shipments of humanitarian aid.
Following the deployment in mid-October, the crossing has seen a dramatic uptick in traffic, with numerous commercial vehicles bearing construction materials, electronic goods, and foodstuffs crossing from Turkey into Syria.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Sajid Abu Firas, director of the Syrian side of the crossing (Bab al-Hawa), said the recent Turkish military deployments would "guarantee stability throughout the region."
Currently, roughly 300 commercial vehicles pass the gate daily, said Abu Firas, adding that the reversal of earlier restrictions, which has allowed the import of badly-needed construction materials, contributed to a commercial revival in Idlib.
"Construction activity in the region has increased by more than 40 percent," Mohamed Waqas, a local merchant in Idlib, told AA.
What's more, Waqas said, airstrikes and artillery shelling have largely stopped in the area following the Turkish military deployments.
Syria has slowly started to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
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