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Russia confirms to Turkey that Kurdish forces have left Syria border area


AFP Istanbul
Russia has informed Turkey that Kurdish fighters in Syria have completed their withdrawal from areas near the border, in accordance with a deal agreed between Ankara and Moscow, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
"Russia informed our competent authorities of the terror groups' complete withdrawal from there," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara marking Turkey's Republic Day.
Under the agreement reached last week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi between Turkey and Russia, a 150-hour deadline was given for Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons to be withdrawn from a zone extending 30 kilometres (18 miles) back from the Turkish border.
That deadline expired at 1500 GMT Tuesday.
Russia earlier said that Kurdish forces in northern Syria had withdrawn as planned.
"The withdrawal of armed units from territory where a security corridor should be created has been completed ahead of time," Russian news agencies quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on a visit to Armenia.
Under the Sochi deal, Turkish and Russian joint patrols are meant to start after the 150-hour deadline expired.
No date was given for the start of joint patrols 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.
Erdogan said Turkey's consultations with Russia 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.

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First Published: Oct 30 2019 | 12:45 AM IST

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