Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a deal has been reached with Russia for Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a Turkish-ruled “safe zone” in northeast Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow will run joint patrols around the area.
The announcement was made after marathon talks in Sochi between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, hours before a United States-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.
On October 9, Turkey launched an offensive aimed at carving out a “safe zone” cleared of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara considers “terrorists”, as well as at repatriating some of the 3.6 million refugees currently residing on its soil.
According to the deal announced at a joint news conference in Sochi, Ankara will control a 32km-wide (20 miles) area between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, which covers 120km (75 miles) of the Turkish-Syrian border.
Beginning on Wednesday at noon, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will start removing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which spearhead the SDF, and their weapons 30km (19 miles) from the border area.