Moscow announced that Kurdish forces had withdrawn from a safe-zone near the north-eastern Syrian border with Turkey, ahead of the agreed-upon schedule.
During a meeting with his Armenian counterpart in the city of Yerevan Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that “As for today, in accordance with Sochi agreements between our presidents, presidents of Russia and Turkey…the withdrawal of armed forces from the territory where a safety corridor is supposed to be created has been completed ahead of schedule. Syrian border guards and our military police have entered the area.”
Meanwhile in Ankara Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the Russian announcement, saying that Ankara will make every effort to end its military operation in northern Syria – while stressing that Turkey maintains open dialogue with both Russia, the United States and “the West”, regarding to the next steps. President Erdogan stated that “The 120-hour deal we made with the United States and the 120 hour deal we made with Russia are completed. We will hold talks (with Russia) tomorrow. We are also holding talks with the West.” He further noted that “With these meetings, we are aiming to achieve results as soon as possible. We are not there to stay. We have only one mission. We are there to clear the area from terrorist organizations.”
As reported yesterday, Russian and Turkish forces have begun patrolling a narrow corridor of some 10 kilometers, equal to 6.2 miles, along the Syrian-Turkish border. The referred to patrols, sealed under an agreement that was reached last week between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompted a deployment of additional Russian troops and armored vehicles in the northern part of war-torn Syria. Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces received a Russian military escort during a coordinated withdrawal from Ankara’s envisioned safe-zone, on the Syrian side of its border. The Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that Syrian government forces would fill the power vacuum by deploying in its place along the border with Turkey. Furthermore, it called on Russia to guarantee dialogue between the Syrian government and the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria.