Turkey denies Damascus claim it sent troops into Syria

Turkish troops patrol along the Turkish border with Syria near the city of Sanliurfa on October 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)

Ankara (AFP) - The Turkish government denied claims that it had sent troops into northern Syria, where the regime backed by the Russian air force has launched a major campaign, state-run Anatolia news agency said on Monday, quoting the defence minister.

"It is not true," Ismet Yilmaz told parliament on Sunday night when asked whether Turkish soldiers had intervened in the fighting in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

"The Turkish military has no intention of intervening in Syria."

The Syrian government claimed that on Saturday 12 pick-up trucks equipped with heavy machine guns and ammunition had crossed into Syria from Turkey via the Bab al-Salama border crossing.

They "were accompanied by around 100 gunmen, some of them Turkish forces and Turkish mercenaries," Syrian state news agency SANA quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

Turkish artillery struck at targets of Kurdish militia at the weekend, with Ankara insisting that it was returning fire under the rules of engagement.

The regime in Damascus has condemned Ankara over the shelling while urging the United Nations to act.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has said it deployed warplanes to a Turkish airbase in order to "intensify" its operations against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Turkey's Yilmaz said a decision had been made with Saudi Arabia for the deployment of four F-16 jets.

"They have not arrived today but they may tomorrow. An agreement had been reached in principle," he said.