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Erdogan hails agreement with Putin over Syria

SOCHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. – AFP

SOCHI, Russia: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed “a historic agreement” with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after hours of talks between the two leaders over the conflict in Syria. “According to this agreement, Turkey and Russia will not allow any separatist agenda on Syrian territory,” Erdogan said, addressing reporters alongside Putin after the talks in the Russian city of Sochi.

Erdogan also announced a 150-hour deadline beginning today for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be moved back 30 km from the Turkish border. “Within 150 hours starting at 1200 noon on October 23, YPG terrorists and their weapons will be removed to the depth of 30 kilometers and their … positions will be destroyed,” Erdogan said.

He added that after the deadline, Turkish and Russian joint patrols would start in two zones stretching 10 km to the east and west of the area of Turkey’s current Operation Peace Spring. “All YPG terrorists in Tal Firat and Manbij will be removed outside this region, together with their weaponry,” he said. Erdogan also said both countries would take necessary measures against “terrorist infiltrations” and create a “joint mechanism” to coordinate the agreement.

Meanwhile, the commander of Kurdish led-SDF fighters has informed the United States that it has carried out all of its obligations under a US-brokered truce to withdraw forces from a border area with Turkey in northeastern Syria, a senior administration official said earlier yesterday.
“A letter came in from General Mazloum…that he had carried out all of his obligations under the arrangement that we had done with the Turks…to withdraw all YPG forces out of the Turkish-controlled safe zone,” the senior administration official told reporters, referring to Mazloum Abdi, the head of Washington’s former allies in the fight against Islamic State.
Ankara and Washington have been in close contact to agree that the withdrawal has taken place, the official said and therefore Turkey’s pause in its military offensive into Syria would turn into a permanent halt of the campaign, as agreed under a deal in Ankara last week.

The five-day truce in Turkey’s cross-border offensive to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish YPG fighters from the border area ended at 10 pm (1900 GMT) yesterday, and Erdogan had said Turkey could then press on with fighting. “We think that Turkey in the end will agree that the withdrawal has taken place under the terms of the agreement. This means that the Turkish pause becomes a Turkish halt in military operations,” the official said.

But he warned that if Ankara fails to cease operations, US sanctions will follow. “Any Turkish kinetic military operation that moves forward at the end of this 120 hours, when they’re supposed to move into an even more…rigid and formal ceasefire under the name halt….will lead to us concluding that Turks have violated our agreement with inevitable sanctions.” – Agencies

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