Turkey, Russia discuss ‘joint patrols’ in Syria’s Tal Rifaat: Sources
Turkey and Russia are discussing the issue of conducting “joint patrols” in Tal Rifaat town of Syria, according to security sources, following coordinated patrols of the two Astana guarantor countries in the rebel stronghold of Idlib province.
“Coordinated efforts are ongoing in order to prevent attacks from the YPG in Tal Rifaat in the region of the Operation Euphrates Shield,” a security source told a group of journalists on condition of anonymity. The latest of these meetings were held on March 11, the source noted.
“Negotiations continue for carrying out joint patrols with Russia in this region,” the source said, noting that negotiations are also underway to prevent ”terrorist attacks” against the northern city of Afrin.
Turkey and Russia last week started coordinated independent patrols in Idlib as part of a deal aiming for a cease-fire in the rebel stronghold. The source said “joint patrols” are also on the agendas of the two countries for this region.
Tal Rifaat is a strategic town in between the regions of Operation Euphrates Shield in Jarablus and Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.
In February 2016, the YPG captured Tal Rifaat, which is located in the southeast of Afrin. The move was to consolidate their hold over the region between the east bank of the Euphrates River and western Afrin, thus linking all the territories under their control.
But during Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August of 2016, Turkey-backed troops captured Al-Bab district, located between Tal Rifaat and Manbij, rendering it impossible for the YPG to link Kobane and Afrin, which was under the control of the YPG at the time.
Turkey assumes the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed PKK.
Ankara accused the YPG of forcing some 250,000 Arab residents out of the city to leave their homes during its initial control of Tal Rifaat.
For the past three years, many of these displaced people have been residing in the nearby city of Azaz, located adjacent to Euphrates Shield’s area of operations.