Friday, 22 November, 2019

Kurds say they have withdrawn from Syrian border region

Ceylanpinar Turkey. Turkish forces appeared to continue shelling targets in Northern Syria despite yesterday's announcement by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that Turkey Germany Seeks European Intervention on Disputed Syria Turkey Border 3Burak Kara Getty Images Simon Kent22 Oct 2019
Travis Berry | 24 October, 2019, 00:29

Turkey's goal was to push back the Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered by Turkey to be terrorists.

The deal was announced after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The two powers had both stationed troops on the Turkey-Syria border after United States troops withdrew from the area.

A complete pullout of the YPG would mark a victory for Erdogan, who launched a cross-border offensive on October 9 to drive the Kurdish militia from the border and create a "safe zone" for the return of Syrian refugees.

Russian military forces are now patrolling the Syrian border Wednesday as part of a joint effort with Turkey to keep Kurds out of the volatile region.

The United States-brokered truce is set to expire at 19:00 GMT on Tuesday.

In Washington, special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey told lawmakers that usa forces had seen evidence of such crimes during Turkey's offensive and had demanded an explanation from Ankara.

The Kremlin has endorsed the deployment of Syrian border guards from noon local time on Wednesday.

Just two weeks after Trump pulled out USA special forces from the region, allowing Turkish troops to sweep in and target Washington's former Kurdish allies, Russia's police deployment shows how swiftly the balance of power in the area has shifted.

This will allow Turkey to patrol with Russian Federation in areas inside Syria that were not part of its offensive.

Turkey foresaw a safe zone of 30 km stretching from the Turkish-Syrian border reaching the M4 motorway that runs parallel to the border inside Syria.

US President Donald Trump, accused by the Kurds of betraying Washington's key allies in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, called the agreement a "big success".

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"We demand that Turkey immediately withdraw from Syria", German center-right lawmaker Michael Gahler said, speaking on behalf of the largest political grouping in the European Union assembly.

The Russia-Turkey agreement was widely hailed as a "road map" for peace negotiations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been one of Assad's most vocal adversaries during Syria's war, would have to prepare Turkey's public for such recognition, according to Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

Russian Federation stationed troops near the border over concerns that Syria's territory was being encroached upon by a foreign power.

Erdogan's operation, meanwhile, will continue in a limited area - between towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn - up to 32km inside Syrian territory. We basically used wherever Turkish troops were, that's where the safe zone existed.

The statement from Russian Federation and Turkey says that Kurdish forces "will be removed" from the towns of Manbij and Tal Rifat - both of which lie outside the operation area.

No comment on the deal from the SDF or Kurdish political leaders was immediately forthcoming.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, the countries said that fighters belonging to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia would pull back about 30km from the Turkish border.

As for his visit to the U.S., scheduled for November 13, Erdogan said that "as of now, it is likely to take place". I hope that in the near future the ceasefire will be continued.

Arriving in the southern countryside of Idlib, Assad strongly denounced Erdogan for the incursion into northern Syria, calling him "a thief".

The immediate question was the fate of the USA -brokered cease-fire, which was to run out at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) Tuesday evening. Turkey, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's easternmost bulwark, cut the deal with Russian Federation after President Trump announced the US pullout, leaving the formerly American-backed Syrian Kurdish forces in a precarious position against their Turkish adversaries.

Erdogan had been infuriated by Washington's decision to ally with the Kurds against the Islamic State group, which empowered Kurdish self-rule ambitions.

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