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Russia to join Turkey to push back Kurdish fighters along border in northern Syria

ANI
Published : Oct 23, 2019, 8:55 am IST
Updated : Oct 23, 2019, 8:55 am IST

Erdogan's operation, meanwhile, will continue in a limited area.

The meeting centered on the security situation in northeast Syria following the launch of Turkey's cross-border operation on October 9 aimed at driving the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers 'terrorists' from the area. (Photo: ANI)
 The meeting centered on the security situation in northeast Syria following the launch of Turkey's cross-border operation on October 9 aimed at driving the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers 'terrorists' from the area. (Photo: ANI)

Sochi: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday (local time) agreed to jointly push back Kurdish fighters from a "safe zone" along the Turkey-Syria border, after marathon talks here.

The talks held in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi came hours before a five-day ceasefire between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria was set to expire.

The meeting centered on the security situation in northeast Syria following the launch of Turkey's cross-border operation on October 9 aimed at driving the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers "terrorists" from the area, Al Jazeera reported.

According to the memorandum of understanding reached between the two countries during the almost-seven-hour-long talks, as provided to Al Jazeera by the Turkish foreign ministry, Russian military police and Syrian servicemen will be deployed to northeastern Syria, while Ankara's operation 'Peace Spring' will continue in a limited area.

Moscow understands the reasons behind the ongoing Turkish military incursion into Syria, Russia's President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying by Russia Today, though he stressed it must not play into the hands of terrorists and that the territorial integrity of Syria must be preserved.

Ultimately, the country must be freed from all "illegal foreign military presence," the president added, reiterating Moscow's long-time position.

The agreement said that the Kurdish-led militias - the prime target of the Turkish operation - must withdraw into Syrian territory beyond 30km from the Turkish border.

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.

Other parts of the Syrian border - from Kobani to Tell Abyad and from Ras al-Ayn to the Iraqi border - are set to be controlled by the Syrian military and border guards, supported by Russian military police.

At the same time, areas not affected by the Turkish military operation will be jointly patrolled by the Turkish military and Russian military police up to 10km deep into Syrian territory.

However, the issue of multiple prisons and camps in northeastern Syria where the Islamic State fighters have been detained was specifically singled out.

Putin stressed that the inevitable chaos created by the Turkish operation should not allow them to escape.

"It's important that members of terrorist organizations, including ISIS, whose militants are held captive by Kurdish armed groups and are trying to break free, do not take advantage of the Turkish armed forces actions," Putin stressed.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, urged those who had created and maintained the prisons to understand their "responsibility" in preventing IS detainees' escape.

After the meeting with Erdogan, Russia's president spoke to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.

Assad has expressed support for the memorandum, stating that the Syrian border guards are ready to work together with Russian military police.

Tags: recep tayyip erdogan, vladimir putin
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