MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia warned Syrian Kurdish YPG forces on Wednesday they face additional armed battle with Turkey in the event that they fail to adjust to a Russian-Turkish accord calling for his or her withdrawal from the whole size of Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a information convention following their talks in Sochi, Russia October 22, 2019. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin through REUTERS
Moscow’s warning got here shortly earlier than Russian and Syrian safety forces had been as a result of begin overseeing the removing of YPG fighters and weapons a minimum of 30 km (19 miles) into Syria, beneath the deal struck by presidents Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan.
An entire pullout of the YPG would mark a victory for Erdogan, who launched a cross-border offensive on Oct. 9 to drive the Kurdish militia from the border and create a “secure zone” for the return of Syrian refugees.
The accord, which expands on a U.S.-brokered deal final week, additionally underlines Putin’s dominant affect in Syria and seals the return of his ally President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to northeast Syria for the primary time in years, by endorsing the deployment of Syrian border guards from midday (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.
Six days later, Russian and Turkish forces will collectively begin to patrol a 10 km strip of land in northeast Syria the place U.S. troops for years had been deployed together with their former Kurdish allies.
These adjustments mirror the dizzying tempo of adjustments in Syria since President Donald Trump introduced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria earlier this month, shaking up the navy steadiness throughout 1 / 4 of the nation after eight years of battle.
Kurdish militia commanders have but to reply to the deal reached in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, and it was not instantly clear how their withdrawal might be enforced.
A joint Turkish-Russian assertion issued after six hours of talks between Putin and Erdogan stated they’d set up a “joint monitoring and verification mechanism” to supervise implementation of the settlement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was extra blunt. If Kurdish forces didn’t retreat, Syrian border guards and Russian navy police must fall again. “And remaining Kurdish formations would then fall beneath the burden of the Turkish military,” he stated.
In a swipe at Washington, which has referred to as into query how the deal can be assured, Peskov stated america had been the closest ally of the Kurdish fighters however had now betrayed them.
“Now they (the People) favor to go away the Kurds on the border and virtually pressure them to battle the Turks,” he stated in remarks to Russian information businesses.
The Kurdish-led SDF had been Washington’s primary allies within the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria. Trump’s choice to drag troops out was criticized by U.S. lawmakers, together with fellow Republicans, as a betrayal.
In an extra signal of rising ties between Ankara and Moscow, which have alarmed the U.S. administration, the pinnacle of Russia’s protection gross sales company was quoted by the Interfax information company on Wednesday as saying Moscow may ship extra S-400 missile protection programs to Turkey.
Turkey, a NATO member, has already been frozen out of a program to purchase and assist produce F-35 jets and faces potential U.S. sanctions for purchasing the S-400 programs, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO’s defenses and threaten the F-35 if operated close to the stealth fighter.
In a single day, Turkey’s protection ministry stated that america had advised Ankara the YPG had accomplished its withdrawal from the realm of Turkey’s navy offensive.
There was no must provoke one other operation outdoors the present space of operation at this stage, the ministry stated, successfully ending a navy offensive that started two weeks in the past and drew international criticism.
TURKEY REVIEWS MILITARY PLANS
Whereas Tuesday’s deal in Sochi addresses Turkey’s name for the YPG to be pushed again from the border, it additionally means Ankara must deepen its safety coordination with Damascus after years of hostility between Erdogan and Assad.
Overseas Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated on Wednesday that Turkey has no direct contact with Assad’s authorities, however “there might be contact on the intelligence stage, that is pure”.
Three Turkish officers advised Reuters this week Ankara was already holding covert contacts with Damascus to avert direct battle in northeast Syria.
Ankara may additionally must reasonable its personal navy ambitions within the area. Turkish safety sources stated Ankara was re-evaluating a plan to arrange 12 statement posts in northeastern Syria within the wake of the deal.
That change displays the truth that Turkey, which had aimed to be the dominant pressure within the “secure zone” space, will now must share that territory with Assad and Putin, who’ve each stated that Turkish forces can’t stay in Syria in the long run.
“Probably the most vital a part of the Russian-Turkish settlement is the arrival of the Syrian border guard to the northeast, one thing each Damascus and Russia sought for a very long time,” stated Yury Barmin, a Center East specialist at Moscow Coverage Group.
“This additionally means de facto recognition of Assad by Erdogan.”
Writing by Dominic Evans; Modifying by Gareth Jones