Russia announces completion of Kurdish withdrawal from northern Syria

Russian-Turkish patrols will verify "soon" if the Kurdish fighters have actually withdrawn, as Moscow says, said Tuesday the Turkish Minister of Defense.

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Russia, a key player in the Syrian conflict, announced on Tuesday (October 29th) the end of the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from northern Syria, where deadly fighting between Syrian and Turkish soldiers is adding to the volatility of the situation on the ground.

According to the terms of an agreement reached on October 22 by Russian presidents Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish militia of the People's Protection Units (YPG) had until Tuesday 4 pm to withdraw from its border positions. Turkey.

This militia – which has actively helped the international coalition to militarily defeat the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) organization but who is seen as "Terrorist" by Ankara – has completed its withdrawal from the area, assured Russia. Erdogan said he was made aware by Moscow of this withdrawal "Total".

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Turkey intends to establish a "security zone"

The Kurdish forces had already moved away in recent days their heavy artillery and armored several frontier areas."The withdrawal of armed units from the territory on which a security corridor must be created has been completed earlier than planned"Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Russian-Turkish patrols will verify "Soon" Kurdish fighters have actually withdrawn, as Moscow says, said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, without giving a date, according to private television NTV.

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Turkey "Will not hesitate" to resume military operations in northeastern Syria if it locates Kurdish fighters near the Turkish border, said Tuesday the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu. "Eighteen people who claimed to be members of the plan (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) were captured alive south-east of Ras al-Ain ", a strategic border town, during reconnaissance patrols, also announced the Turkish Ministry of Defense.

A truce enamelled with clashes

Ankara launched an offensive on Oct. 9 against the YPG, with the stated goal of setting up a "Security zone" Thirty kilometers deep to remove the YPG, before interrupting its operation through two agreements negotiated separately with the United States and Russia.

On Tuesday, fighting between the Turkish and Syrian armies for the first time since the arrival of Syrian regime soldiers in northern Syria, who have deployed at the request of the Kurds after the announcement of the US withdrawal.

Although the Ankara offensive has been stalled since the Russian-Turkish agreement, the truce is peppered with clashes between Syrian groups protested and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by the YPG and now supported by Damascus.

Five Syrian soldiers were killed by "Artillery fire" Turkish, and a sixth was "Executed" by the rebels proturcs near the village of Al-Assadiya, less than 10 km from the border, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (OSDH). These are the first fights between Turkish and Syrian soldiers since the launch of the Turkish offensive, according to the NGO, which says that clashes have also pitted the soldiers of Damascus against Syrian auxiliaries in Ankara.

On Tuesday, a patrol of the Russian military police at the DerbassiyƩ border crossing (north-east) was also the target of an Ankara shelling, according to the official Sana news agency, which denounced a "Turkish aggression". She reported six wounded Syrian civilians.

In accordance with the Russian-Turkish agreement, Turkey is in control of another 120-km north-eastern border area, which it has taken control of during its offensive.

Reconfiguration of forces on the ground

For its part, the Syrian power is deployed in areas of the north that had escaped since 2012, and its army is now found near Turkish soldiers. This reconfiguration of forces on the ground illustrates the complexity of the Syrian conflict that today involves multiple belligerents and foreign powers, with ever-changing alliances.

Long spearhead of the anti-IS, Kurdish forces, weakened by the Turkish offensive, have warned against a jihadist resurgence while they still retain thousands of jihadists, including Europeans and Americans, in several prisons across northeastern Syria.

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