Turkey, Russia to begin joint patrols on Syria border: report

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Turkey will begin joint military patrols with Russia in northern Syria on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Wednesday, according to Deutsche Welle English service.

The patrols will initially begin within seven kilometers of the Turkish border.

The statement comes a day after the expiration of the 150-hour period agreement for Syrian border guards and Russian military police to remove Kurdish forces 30 kilometers from the Turkish border in northeast Syria.

Erdoğan on Wednesday disputed the claim by Russian military police that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which is allied with the US, had left the strip.

Turkey reserves the right to launch another operation against the YPG in the area, said Erdoğan.

Turkey considers the militia, the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to be a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a nearly four-decade war for Kurdish rights against the Turkish state.

In a statement released by the Turkish Ministry of Defense on Tuesday, the Turkish-Russian patrols “will be initiated in the west and east of the borders of current Operation Peace Spring at a depth of 10 kilometers.”

The joint operations will include mine clearance and reconnaissance activities.

The upcoming Russia-Turkey operations were initially agreed in talks between Russian President Putin and Erdoğan in Sochi on Oct. 22, in addition to the 150-hour period that expired on Tuesday.

The leaders met to discuss a solution following Turkey’s offensive into the strip of land in northeast Syria.

Turkey entered the area to drive out Kurdish fighters after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the region earlier in October.

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