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Iran Press TV

Kurdish forces in northeast Syria begin withdrawal along Turkish border

Iran Press TV

Thu Oct 24, 2019 06:54PM

Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria have left several positions along the long border with Turkey, complying with a deal between Russia and Turkey that saw the deployment of Syrian government troops to the border regions.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had pulled out of some areas at the eastern end of the border on Thursday.

"The SDF have withdrawn from positions between Derbasiyeh and Amuda in the Hasakeh countryside," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based war monitor, said.

Fighters of the so-called People's Protection Units (YPG) -- the backbone of the SDF -- remained in many positions along the 440 kilometer border, he added.

Russia's RIA news agency also on Thursday, citing an SDF official, confirmed that Kurdish fighters had withdrawn to 32 km (20 miles) away from the border with Turkey.

The official hinted that Kurds in the SDF group were ready to discuss joining the Syrian army.

Kurdish forces had already vacated a 120-kilometer segment of the border strip -- an Arab-majority area between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

The developments came after a 10-point memorandum of understanding was unveiled following lengthy talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

The Ankara-Moscow deal put an end to the Turkish offensive, which had been launched on October 9 with the aim of cleansing the regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militias – whom Turkey views as terrorists linked to PKK militants – and establishing a "safe zone" there.

Under the deal, which took effect at noon on Wednesday, Russian military police and Syrian border guards entered the northern border regions to facilitate the removal of YPG militants and their weapons to a depth of 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Syria's frontier with Turkey.

Once the process is complete, Turkish and Russian soldiers will begin joint patrols of the entire border area to a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles) with the exception of the border city of Qamishli in Hasakah Province.

The Turkish incursion came with the US green light, which was once a staunch supporter of the Kurdish militants. Prior to the incursion, Washington abruptly pulled its forces out of Syria's northern regions, effectively moving aside for NATO ally Ankara to attack the Kurds.

Feeling betrayed by the US, the Kurdish militants turned to Damascus for help, inking a Russia-brokered deal with the Syrian government, under which the Kurds allowed army troops to deploy along the Turkish border to stave off Ankara's offensive.

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