Russia and Turkey have agreed to a plan for northeast Syria that will see Russian patrols of a buffer zone along the Syria-Turkey border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, October 22.
Turkish and Russian forces will conduct joint patrols in the buffer zone to ensure the YPG have pulled back 32 km from the Turkish border, Erdogan said, following six hours of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northeast Syria on October 9 with the aim of pushing out the Syrian Democratic Forces from a 30-km-wide area along the border. Erdogan wants to resettle two million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey in that area and prevent Syrian Kurds from joining territory in around Turkey’s southern border.
Ankara considers the SDF and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be inextricably linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged an insurgency in Turkey since 1984.
Russian military police and security forces will begin observations outside the zone on October 23 to ensure the SDF have left the area, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except in Qamishli city, according to the text of the memorandum of understanding seen by The Defense Post.
The YPG and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat, the text says.
Earlier on Tuesday, SDF spokesperson Redur Xelil told The Defense Post that the force had pulled back from the area of Turkish operations between Ras al-Ayn and Tel Abyad, in accordance with an agreement brokered by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in a visit with Erdogan last week. The ceasefire agreed by Pence and Erdogan on Thursday is set to expire at 10 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) on Tuesday.