Turkey and Russia reached a historic deal on Wednesday to drive Kurdish forces out of Syria’s border with Turkey. The deal comes after a brief pause in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces. Under the new deal, the Syrian and Russian forces will oversee an immediate withdrawal of the Kurdish forces.
The announcement comes after a series of marathon talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, just hours before a US-brokered truce between the Turkish and Kurdish forces was due to expire.
Turkey sees no need to launch a new offensive in northern Syria outside the area it already controls, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday after the US reported the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the border area.
However, "Turkey will never allow a terrorist corridor to be formed south of its borders, and our fight against terrorism will continue with determination," said the Turkish Defence Ministry, according to Anadolu news agency.
The Ministry also stressed that the joint patrol agreement reached on Tuesday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi and said the joint military cooperation in the area would begin the following day.
The statement referred to the objective of the land-air military offensive known as Operation Peace Spring that Ankara launched on October 9 in northeastern Syria against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which it considers terrorists.
Turkey had always wanted to establish a safe zone owing to the geographical proximity that it shares with Syria. Turkey and Russia, despite supporting opposing sides since 2017 have remained in close cooperation through the ‘Astana talks’ that aim to find a peaceful solution to Syria’s problems and create a new constitution for the country.
On his return flight, Erdogan said he would study the situation with the Defence Ministry after the end of the ceasefire to decide next steps.
"The promises made according to the agreement we reached with the US were not fully fulfilled. When we land we will evaluate the situation with the Ministry of Defence and Intelligence, and take the necessary steps," the Turkish president told reporters who accompanied him on the trip.
(With Inputs from IANS)