Russia and Turkey to Jointly Patrol Northern Syrian Borders
Turkish and Russian troops will begin patrolling a 5-mile zone along the Turkish border.
Both Turkish and Russian military officials agreed on Wednesday to begin jointly patrolling areas in northwest Syria by this Friday. According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the agreement following a Turkish-Russian deal to withdraw Kurdish fighters from the area.
Initially, the troops will operate within a 7 kilometer (5 miles) zone, to the south of the Turkish border. The announcement comes after a deadline expired on Tuesday for a 150-hour agreement that Russian and Syrian forces remove Kurdish elements about 30 kilometers away from the northern Syrian borders with Turkey.
Earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan refuted a Russian claim that the Kurdish YPG militia, which has been allied with U.S. troops, left the border area. According to DW, Erdogan claimed that Turkey reserves the right to carry out another operation against the Kurdish YPG in the region.
A statement released Tuesday by the Turkish Defense Ministry announced the Turkish-Russian patrols “will be initiated in the west and east of the borders of current Operation Peace Spring at a depth of 10 kilometers.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan met on October 22 in Sochi, following Turkey’s military offensive on northern Syria to force out Kurdish forces in the region. It was there that the two leaders initially agreed to the joint military patrol.
With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the Kurdish militias have been a part of the dissident US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. However, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the heavily Kurdish region of northern Syria, prompting some to accuse him of abandoning the U.S.’ Kurdish allies in the face of Turkey’s military push into the region.
Over the past four decades, Turkey has been in a battle with Kurdish militias that are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which seeks a national home of their own in the south of Turkey.