Turkey, Russia agree on new Syria accord
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Oct. 22 agreed on a new accord for the creation of a safe zone in Syria’s north along the Turkish border.
According to the deal, the status quo in the “Operation Peace Spring” zone will be preserved.
In 150 hours starting from Oct. 23 noon, all YPG militants will withdraw beyond the 30-kilometer line from the Turkish border with their guns and their fortifications will be destroyed.
At the same time, Turkish and Russian troops will begin patrols in the 10-kilometer zone in east and west of the operation zone to prevent militants’ infiltration to the safe zone.
The two countries will work together for the safe return of Syrian refugees, Erdoğan said after a five-hour meeting with Putin.
“We mostly talked about the ‘Operation Peace Spring’ and I briefed Mr. Putin in detail,” Erdoğan said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart.
Turkey and Russia will not allow a separatist agenda on Syrian soil, working in the framework of the Adana Agreement signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998.
Russia understands Turkey's steps regarding protecting its national security, Putin said, adding that Erdoğan explained the Turkish operation in Syria.
“Events on ground must not frustrate plans for Syrian constitutional committee to start work in Geneva next week,” Putin said.
Speaking before his departure for Sochi, Erdoğan ruled out the presence of the YPG from any future solution to Syria where conflict persists.
"YPG terrorists have no place in the future of Syria," Erdoğan told a press conference at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport.
“Turkey and Russia agree on every point of the fight against terrorism,” Erdoğan said.
“We will discuss the steps to be taken to end the presence of the YPG in areas where Syrian regime elements exist.”
The president added that Turkey's operation in northern Syria neutralized 775 YPG militants, while seven Turkish soldiers, 79 Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) members and 20 civilians were killed during the operation.
The successful operation aimed at establishing peace in the region has cleared an area of 2,200 square kilometers of terror groups, he added.
Ankara and the U.S. have agreed on a 20-mile (32-kilometer) safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria, where Turkey wants to accommodate more than 3 million refugees it is currently hosting.
Some 700 to 800 militants withdrew from the safe zone and 1,200 to 1,300 are planning to retreat, Erdoğan said.
"We are tracking them down," he added.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terror groups from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
Regarding a question on French President Emmanuel Macron's meeting with Putin on extending the 120-hour pause, Erdoğan said he has not received a proposal on the issue.
“Macron discusses these issues with terrorists,” Erdoğan said.
“He must have chosen to indirectly deliver us the terrorists' proposal.”
Turkey hails 'historic' Syria deal with Russia
Meanwhile, top Turkish officials hailed Turkey's "historic" deal with Russia on Syria.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 22 shared the details of the agreement on Twitter.
"#StrongTurkey under the leadership of President @RTErdogan," he said in a tweet.
Thanks to the strong leadership of Erdoğan, a "historic" diplomatic success has been achieved, Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said in a Twitter post.
Altun said that Turkey will continue to fight against terrorism with the cooperation of friendly and allied nations, adding: "This is a great day for civilized nations fighting against terrorist groups".
"Today's agreement between Turkey and Russia marks the beginning of a new era in our bilateral relations," he said, adding: "Syria's territorial integrity and political unity are key to a stable future in the region.
"Today's agreement with Russia is independent of the Turkey-U.S. deal, under which all PKK/YPG terrorists are required to leave the safe zone," he added.