Joint patrols with Russia in Syria soon: Turkey

Last Updated 30 October 2019, 03:29 IST

Turkey said Tuesday that joint patrols with Russia in a Syrian border zone would begin "soon" following the withdrawal of Kurdish forces, but gave no timeframe.

Russia announced that Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters had pulled back from a zone extending 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Turkey under the terms of a deal reached last week between Ankara and Moscow.

Under the agreement hammered out in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi after Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria, the YPG was given a 150-hour deadline which expired at 1500 GMT Tuesday.

Under the Sochi deal, Turkish and Russian joint patrols are meant to begin after the deadline expired.

No date was given but Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said they would begin "soon", according to the private NTV broadcaster.

The patrols are to be in two zones stretching 10 kilometres to the east and west of Turkey's current Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish forces in Syria.

Turkey's defence ministry said the patrols would start in the zones except in the city of Qamishli, and that preparations had begun -- with mine clearing and reconnaissance flights on patrol routes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said consultations with Russia on the situation in Syria would continue on Wednesday.

"We are not there (in Syria) to stay. We have only one goal: we are there to clear terror groups," he said.

Ankara says the YPG is a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984.

The Turkish military, together with its proxies in Syria, launched an operation on October 9 to clear YPG forces from areas near its border and create a "safe zone" to repatriate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

(Published 30 October 2019, 03:16 IST)

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